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UFC On Fuel TV 8 Japan 2013: Silva Vs. Stann Results and Takeways

March 04, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

It was a night filled with some bizarre scorecards and some bizarre in cage action, but the main event made up for all of that and more. Brian Stann and Wanderlei Silva engaged in a highly entertaining brawl for just under ten minutes and delivered an early candidate for Round of the Year during the first round of their Light Heavyweight tilt. Strange scorecards and Split Decisions plagued many of the other main card bouts, but overall the event has to be considered a success for the UFC and for the fans in Japan if for no other reason than seeing former PRIDE Fighting Championship heroes Mark Hunt and Wanderlei Silva emerge with emphatic victories. As usual, we’ll take a look at what happened in the fights and what’s next for the main card fighters.

Welterweight Bout: Dong Hyun Kim defeated Siyar Bahadurzada via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

Ground domination, that’s what this fight came down to. The question heading into this bout was whether or not Bahadurzada could tag Kim on the feet before getting dragged to the ground. The emphatic answer was absolutely not and he had no answer for Kim on the ground. The Korean ground specialist delivered a steady stream of ground and pound and submission attempts across all three rounds but never could get the finish.

What’s next for Kim? It depends how quickly they want to elevate Kim’s level of opposition. He’ll continue to smother and outwork anyone who can’t hang with him on the ground, so give him someone who could match him there. Mike Pierce is a tough and talented grinder who could probably challenge Kim in ways others haven’t yet. Throw him in there.

What’s next for Bahadurzada? He’s an exciting striker, which means he’ll likely get reprieve from the UFC. But he has nothing to offer anyone who can take him down to the ground. They either throw him another grappler and then send him packing if he doesn’t improve or they feed him strikers to try and rebuild him in the hopes of some entertaining slugfests. If it’s a grinder Josh Koscheck, if it’s a striker Martin Kampmann.

Featherweight Bout: Rani Yahya defeated Mizuto Hirota via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

Yahya is widely considered to be one of the best grapplers in the Featherweight division and he proved it in this contest. Some thought he might struggle being the smaller fighter against a larger foe, but he dominated the action on the ground for the opening two rounds. In the third, cardio became a factor and Yahya began to look slow and tired from fighting against such a large opponent, but despite controlling the final round Hirota was unable to secure a finish and complete the comeback.

What’s next for Yahya? He’s a top notch grappler, but he could struggle against wrestlers who he can’t get down to the ground easily. He’s on a roll and deserves a tough test in his division. Featherweight wrestlers like Dennis Bermudez or Nik Lentz would be good choices to test his abilities.

What’s next for Hirota? Likely unemployment, although the UFC could keep him around if they’re planning a lot of Asian cards in the next year. A fight with Brazilian grappler Rodrigo Damm on a Brazilian or Asian card would make sense if they keep him under employment.

Middleweight Bout: Yushin Okami defeated Hector Lombard via Split Decision after Three Rounds

Yushin Okami dwarfed Lombard when they stepped into the cage on Saturday night. It looked as though the two men should have been in separate weight classes. Okami did what he does best, he used his size and strength to gain takedowns and control Lombard from top position. Lombard looked tentative to let his hands go in the opening two rounds and his footwork looked stiff. His Judo was no match for the constant takedown attempts of Okami. In the third Lombard sensed urgency and tried to earn a knockout, but was unable to earn a stoppage on the feet and ended up dropping what should have been a Unanimous Decision, but somehow ended up being a split.

What’s next for Okami? The UFC has to be getting tired of Okami beating every Middleweight contender that they sign. He’s quickly turning into the Jon Fitch of the Middleweight division. His grinding style isn’t fan friendly, but he gets the job done. Rising Middleweight contenders Costa Philippou and Ronaldo Souza have an upcoming bout, the winner of that fight is going to need to prove they can beat a fighter like Okami, so let them fight Okami.

What’s next for Lombard? My guess if the UFC tells him to cut to Welterweight or hit the road. He’s expensive as hell and was a marquee signing for the UFC, but he’s too short and small for Middleweight. Okami simply manhandled him and he hasn’t been impressive. If I was the UFC I would cut my losses and let him go back to Bellator as a broken fighter.

Lightweight Bout: Diego Sanchez defeated Takanori Gomi via Split Decision after Three Rounds

What happened in this bout? Not a whole heck of a lot. Slow and somewhat sloppy kickboxing between two fighters who are probably capable of much better. Rumors are saying that Diego had an injury and started his weight cut at over 200 pounds, so shedding that much weight likely had a negative impact on his performance. As it was, I think Gomi got robbed, although it’s hard to fault judges in a fight that was so lacking in action. There really are no winners coming from this fight as both men were fairly unimpressive, but Sanchez earns an official win nonetheless.

What’s next for Sanchez? He called out Nate Diaz after the fight, but after a performance as unimpressive as his, he doesn’t deserve a former number one contender. Jamie Varner just scored an impressive victory over Melvin Guillard and he could be a tough style match up for Sanchez, especially if he looks the way he did against Gomi. Until Sanchez proves he deserves a top notch Lightweight opponent inside the cage, he shouldn’t get one.

What’s next for Gomi? I feel bad for Gomi, because I think he got hosed by the decision here. Still, he didn’t look overly impressive either and this is one of those fights where there are no real winners. He’s a shell of his former self, so depending on the price tag he carries I could see anything from a friendly stylistic match up to a pink slip. He was on a two-fight winning streak heading into this fight, so my guess is he gets another fight. Thiago Tavares or Tony Ferguson could be decent dance partners for Gomi if they want to keep him relevant. If not, throw him to a debuting fighter that you have high hopes for and see what happens.

Heavyweight Bout: Mark Hunt defeated Stefan Struve via TKO (Punches) at 1:44 of Round Three

Stefan Struve said that if he got Mark Hunt to the ground he would win. Well he got him there several times and had a number of dangerous positions, but he could never put Hunt away. In the third round that cost him big time. With both men looking visibly tired, the fight was more than likely even with a round a piece. Hunt came on strong with a couple of flurries and dropped Struve before walking away. Although it appeared Struve was okay and Herb Dean was willing to let the fight continue, Struve complained of a broken jaw and the fight was waved off.

What’s next for Hunt? He demanded a top 5 opponent, but the top 4 of the division are already locked up for bouts, as are the likely 5 and 6 fighters. If Roy Nelson can beat up Cheick Kongo in their upcoming bout I think that’s a fight that makes sense for both guys. If Nelson loses to Kongo, which I don’t think he will, but he might, then the winner of the upcoming Travis Browne vs. Gabriel Gonzaga fight would be a good choice as well.

What’s next for Struve? Back to the drawing board I guess. This fight was his for the taking but he didn’t really ever look comfortable in the fight. He’s still young and still figuring himself out, but he needs to learn how to fight to his size and his full potential. With 13 fights already in the UFC, he’s running out of fresh faces to take on. Depending on how long it takes his jaw to heal, a fight with Ben Rothwell could make sense. Or the loser of the upcoming bout between Phil de Fries and Matt Mitrione.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Wanderlei Silva defeated Brian Stann via KO (Punches) at 4:08 of Round Two

Round one is the early contender for Round of the Year so far in 2013. These two went at each other and simply went to war. They brawled throwing wild haymakers and power punches. Each man got rocked during the opening round, with Stann actually dropping Wanderlei 3 times, without being able to put him away. A big shot from Wanderlei opened a cut on Stann’s nose and had blood flowing by the time the round ended. In the second, Stann was again stalking Silva, but this time he got a bit over anxious and it ended up costing him. A few hooks and an overhand right rocked Stann and follow up punches put him out cold as Silva made an incredible comeback.

What’s next for Silva? Depends whether he wants to fight at Light Heavyweight or Middleweight. He says he’s simply fighting for the fans now, so I think he stays at Light Heavyweight for marquee match ups. If that’s the case, there is a perfect dance partner just waiting for him. Forrest Griffin is known for a reckless and brawling style, so is Silva. Let them be a featured bout on a Fox card and give the fans a brawl for the ages.

What’s next for Stann? He’s going back to Middleweight, but I’m sure the UFC was hoping that he’d be going back down with a victory. Stann remains highly marketable and very fan friendly because of his fighting style, personality and past life in the US Marines. It’s likely they give him a winnable fight in his return to Middleweight, so Ed Herman or Rousimar Palhares will likely be the suitable options for Stann.

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UFC On Fuel TV 8 Japan 2013: Silva Vs. Stann

March 01, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Fresh off the successful debut of Women scrapping inside the UFC octagon, the UFC is bringing another weekend of free fights. The octagon returns to the land of the rising sun for UFC on Fuel TV: Silva vs. Stann live from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The main event of the evening features a Light Heavyweight bout between two Middleweight brawlers who decided they didn’t want to cut weight for this fight as Wanderlei Silva battles Brian Stann.

The rest of the main card features a number of Japanese and Korean fighters for the local flavor, as is the norm for overseas events. The card also promises a lot of potential excitement and there are a couple of bouts which could move fighters ever closer to title shots in their respective divisions. In the co-main event Heavyweights do battle as Stefan “The Skyscraper” Struve battles former PRIDE FC fan favorite Mark Hunt. Former PRIDE Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi battles Diego Sanchez in Lightweight action. In Middleweight action former Bellator Middleweight Champion Hector Lombard battles perennial Middleweight contender Yushin Okami. Let’s not waste any more time, let’s jump right into the fights.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Marcelo Guimaraes vs. Hyun Gyu Lim

Marcelo “Magrao” Guimaraes is a 29-year-old fighter from Itapemirim, Brazil. Guimaraes is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who is a member of the Fight Society Team in Vila Velha, Brazil. He holds a professional record of 8-0-1. Hyun “The Ace” Gyu Lim is a 28-year-old fighter from South Korea. Lim is a member of Korean Top Team in Seoul, South Korea. He holds a professional record of 10-3-1.

Quick Pick: Hyun Gyu Lim via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Alex Caceres vs. Kyung Ho Kang

Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres is a 24-year-old fighter from Miami, Florida. Caceres is a member of the Young Tigers Foundation Gym in Miami. Caceres was a cast member on the twelfth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He holds a career record of 8-5. Kyung “Typhoon” Ho Kang is a 25-year-old fighter from Busan, South Korea. He has fought for a number of major Asian MMA promotions including Spirit MC, DEEP, Sengoku and Road FC. A member of the Busan Team M.A.D. in South Korea. He holds a career record of 11-6.

Quick Pick: Alex Caceres via Split Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Cristiano Marcello vs. Kazuki Tokudome

Cristiano Marcello is a 35-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was a cast member on the live season of The Ultimate Fighter. Marcello is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who trains with the Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil and is a part time BJJ coach for the Team Alpha Male Gym. Marcello holds a career record of 13-4. Kazuki Tokudome is a 25-year-old fighter from Tokyo, Japan. Tokudome is a member of the Paraestra Hachioji Dojo in Tokyo. He holds a career record of 11-3.

Quick Pick: Kazuki Tokudome via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Takeya Mizugaki vs. Bryan Caraway

Takeya Mizugaki is a 29-year-old Japanese fighter from Ibaragi, Japan. Mizugaki is a member of the Shooting Gym Hakkei Dojo in Kanagawa, Japan. Mizugaki is a former WEC Bantamweight title challenger, who holds a professional record of 16-7-2. Bryan “Kid Lightning” Caraway is a 28-year-old fighter from Yakima, Washington. Caraway was a cast member on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter who trains with the Team Alpha Male Gym in California. Caraway holds a professional record of 17-5.

Quick Pick: Takeya Mizugaki via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Riki Fukuda vs. Brad Tavares

Riki “Killer Bee” Fukuda is a 32-year-old fighter from Gifu, Japan. He is a member of the Kiguchi Dojo in Tokyo, Japan but is currently training with the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Fukuda holds a career record of 19-6. Brad Tavares is a 25-year-old fighter from Kailua, Hawaii. He was a cast member on the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter who now trains with the Team Tomkins Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada as well as the Xtreme Couture Gym in Nevada. He holds a career record of 9-1.

Quick Pick: Brad Tavares via Split Decision

Main Card (Fuel TV): Welterweight Bout: Dong Hyun Kim vs. Siyar Bahadurzada

“The Stun Gun” Dong Hyun Kim is a 31-year-old fighter from Suwon, South Korea. Kim has fought for a number of major Asian MMA promotions including DEEP and Spirit MC. Kim is a black belt in Judo at the 4th dan level. He trains in Busan, South Korea as a member of the Busan Team M.A.D. Gym. Kim uses his Judo skills to take his opponents down often and is smothering from top control. At 6’1” Kim is a fairly large Welterweight who cuts a lot of weight to make 170 pounds and uses his size and strength well in his fights. He holds a career record of 16-2-1 with 1 No Contest.

Siyar “The Great” Bahadurzada is a 28-year-old fighter from Kabul, Afghanistan. A former Light Heavyweight fighter, he has shed a lot of weight to transform himself into a Welterweight. Bahadurzada is a talented striker who has a strong background in kickboxing. He has trained with a number of top flight gyms across the globe including Golden Glory in the Netherlands, the Blackzillians in Florida as well as the Reign Training Center in California. Bahadurzada also packs a ton of power in his punches with 11 TKO victories, but is better rounded than he is often credited for and holds an additional 6 victories via submission. Overall his professional record stands at 21-4-1.

Analysis and Prediction: Bahadurzada made his UFC debut in April of 2012, nearly a year ago. Since then a number of injuries have kept him out of action. He does his best work when he can strike from a distance. Kim’s specialty is crowding and suffocating his opponents. He will need to close the distance early and often, keeping his chin covered until he can get his hands on Bahadurzada. Bahadurzada’s game relies a lot on timing and I think he’ll take some time to get into his rhythm, unfortunately that also gives Kim time to get into his rhythm. I expect Kim survives the odd scare but otherwise smothers him en-route to a decision victory. Dong Hyun Kim via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Fuel TV): Featherweight Bout: Mizuto Hirota vs. Rani Yahya

Mizuto “Pugnus” Hirota is a 31-year-old fighter from Nagasaki, Japan. Hirota is a former World Victory Road Lightweight Champion and a former DEEP Lightweight Champion. Hirota is a member of the Cave Dojo in Tokyo, Japan. Hirota is a tough and well-rounded fighter who does his best work by using takedowns and ground and pound to control his opponents. However, in one of his most notable bouts against Shinya Aoki he looked nearly helpless off of his back and was eventually gruesomely injured due to a Hammerlock. Hirota holds a professional record of 14-5-1.

Rani Yahya is a 28-year-old Brazilian fighter from Brasilia, Brazil. Yahya is a former winner of the Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling Championships. Yahya is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who does his best work on the mat. He is a member of the Constrictor Team training in his hometown of Brasilia. Yahya has been improving his striking skills, but he’s still a bit wild and uses his skills mostly as a means to close the distance and drag his opponents to the ground. He holds a career record of 17-7, including 15 victories via Submission.

Analysis and Prediction: Yahya is absolutely dangerous on the ground and while Hirota is no slouch on the mat, he’s not great off of his back. Hirota was embarrassed by Shinya Aoki and was most recently outwrestled by Pat Healy. He’ll need to stay off his back if he wants to have any chance in this fight. If Yahya can keep his striking fairly basic and keep himself out of trouble on the feet while he closes the distance he stands a decent chance of earning a submission. I just don’t think Hirota has the ability to keep Yahya off of him. Rani Yahya via Submission in Round Two

Main Card (Fuel TV): Middleweight Bout: Yushin Okami vs. Hector Lombard

Yushin “Thunder” Okami is a 31-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. Okami like many of his fellow countrymen in MMA holds a black belt in Judo. Okami trains with the Wajyutsu Keisyukai Dojo in his hometown in Japan, but also trains in the US with Chael Sonnen at Team Quest in Oregon. Okami is a massive Middleweight fighter with a smothering top control game who was a former Middleweight title challenger. Okami’s striking has been improving steadily and he puts basic boxing combinations together well, but his game plans still revolve mostly around taking his opponents down and controlling them on the mat. His size, physical strength and Judo background make him a dangerous fighter from the clinch. He holds a career record of 28-7.

Hector “Lightning” Lombard is a 35-year-old fighter from Matanzas, Cuba. Lombard like his opponent holds a black belt in Judo and competed in the Olympics in Judo representing his home country of Cuba. Lombard also holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but is best known for his powerful striking and knockout power. Lombard is a member of the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Lombard is also a former Bellator Middleweight Champion. He holds a career record of 32-3-1 with 1 No Contest.

Analysis and Prediction: Make all the jokes you want about Thunder battling Lightning in this bout, but this bout is very intriguing. Both men are excellent practitioners of Judo and the clinch and ground battle between these two men could be top level. Okami has been knocked out in the past, so many people are leaning towards a Lombard knockout victory. However, Okami is a massive Middleweight, while Lombard has a short and stocky frame that could be better suited to 170-pounds. Okami uses his size and reach advantages en-route to an Okami-like decision victory. Yushin Okami via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Fuel TV): Lightweight Bout: Takanori Gomi vs. Diego Sanchez

Takanori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi is a 34-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. Gomi is a former Shooto Welterweight Champion and was the only ever Pride Lightweight Champion. During his time in Pride, he was regarded as the best Lightweight on the fighter, but his stock has dropped significantly since joining the UFC. However, in his last bout against Mac Danzig he showed an improved game and an increased well roundedness. Gomi trains with the Kugayama Rascal Gym in Tokyo. He holds a career record of 34-8 with 1 No Contest.

Diego “The Nightmare/The Dream” Sanchez is a 31-year-old fighter from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sanchez was a cast member and the eventual Middleweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season One. Sanchez is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico. He holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a black belt in Gaidojutsu. Sanchez is a tough, well-rounded fighter who is unfortunately better known as an oddball than his considerable fighting talent. Sanchez is a tough fighter who has never been stopped by strikes, with the exception of a TKO via cut against BJ Penn. Sanchez is also well known for getting involved in brawls and being extremely aggressive, having won the Fight of the Night bonus award six times in his UFC career. He holds a professional record of 23-5.

Analysis and Prediction: Gomi looked much improved during his last bout against Mac Danzig but he’s still a step or two behind his days in Pride. Sanchez is extremely aggressive, very durable and constantly pressures his opponents. Gomi has shown cardio issues in the past and that’s likely going to be his downfall in this one. Even if he lands a big shot when Sanchez gets reckless, he’ll have a tough time turning his lights out completely. Sanchez grinds Gomi throughout the first two rounds, tiring him out before earning a stoppage via Submission in the third. Diego Sanchez via Submission in Round Three

Main Card (Fuel TV): Heavyweight Bout: Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve

Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt is a 38-year-old fighter from South Aukland, New Zealand. Hunt is a former Super Heavyweight fighter who has gotten himself in considerably better shape than early in his career. Hunt is a former K-1 Kick boxer who was the winner of the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix Tournament. Now living in New South Wales, Australia he trains with the American Top Team in the USA. Hunt is known for his big time punching power and his iron chin, being able to take massive amounts of punishment during his bouts. Hunt holds a career MMA record of 8-7.

Stefan “The Skyscraper” Struve is a 25-year-old fighter from Beverwijk, Netherlands. Struve is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but his extremely long limbs make him very dangerous on the mat. Struve is extremely tall and at nearly 7’0” he is the tallest fighter in the UFC. Struve is a pupil of Bob Schreiber and trains with Team Schreiber in his hometown. At only 25-years-old he is finally beginning to grow into his massive body and has put on a significant amount of weight and muscle mass in his more recent fights. Struve is also beginning to fight more to his size, using his extreme length and reach to pepper his opponents with stiff jabs from the outside and using thudding leg kicks. He holds a career record of 25-5.

Analysis and Prediction: Struve seems to have one weakness that has been glaring throughout his career, a glass jaw (his three losses in the UFC are all via TKO or KO.) Hunt seems tailor made to exploit that weakness, unfortunately, that’s his only chance of winning. Hunt is a subpar grappler and if Struve gets this fight to the ground, it’s likely that he’ll be able to lock in a submission against a fairly helpless Hunt. The biggest struggle for Struve will be safely closing the distance to work the fight to the ground. If he keeps his hands up and uses leg kicks to slow Hunt down and chop him down to size, he should be able to find the opening he needs to work the fight to the ground. From there it’s academic. Stefan Struve via Submission in Round One

Main Card (Fuel TV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann

Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva is a 36-year-old Brazilian fighter from Curitiba, Brazil. Silva is a legend in the sport of MMA and is likely a lock for the UFC Hall of Fame when he retires from the sport. Silva is known for his aggressive and at times reckless style, causing an extremely high number of stoppages on his resume (both wins and losses.) Silva was a former Pride Middleweight Champion and won the 2003 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix. Silva is a dangerous Muay Thai striker with dangerous knees and elbows and a devastating clinch game. Silva also holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and although he is a talented grappler, he rarely uses that side of his game during his fights. He is a member of the Wand Fight Team and a former member of the Chute Boxe Academy, who now trains and resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. He holds a career record of 34-12-1 with 1 No Contest.

Brian “The All-American” Stann is a 32-year-old American fighter from Pennsylvania, although he was actually born on an Air Base in Tokyo, Japan. Stann is a former US Marine who has been awarded the Silver Star. Stann is a former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion who now fights at Middleweight, but is taking on Silva in a “one-off” bout at 205-pounds. Stann is a black belt in MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program) and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He trains with Greg Jackson’s Camp in New Mexico. Stann is a powerful striker with knockout power in his hands, who has been improving his technical proficiency to match his power punching abilities. He holds a career record of 12-5 with 9 victories via Knockout.

Analysis and Prediction: This bout being contested at 205 pounds makes things slightly more interesting. Stann is a big time power puncher at Middleweight and giving him an extra 20 pounds of force should only enhance those power shots. Silva on the other hand is a more diversified striker who likely has more tools in his toolbox. Silva has struggled against power punchers in his recent career having been stopped by strikes or rocked and dazed in many of his bouts.

Stann struggled in his most recent bout against Michael Bisping who used a measured approach to striking to beat Stann to the punch with a strong jab and good use of takedowns. It’s unlikely however that Silva will try such an approach. The more likely outcome is that he tries to rush Stann, which could be a problem for the Brazilian, since Stann is a decent counter puncher who only needs one big shot to land to turn the tide of the fight. Silva has fought at 205 pounds in the past, as has Stann but of the two, Stann is probably going to be better suited to pack on the additional 20 pounds.

Silva’s best chance is to use a well-rounded strategy similar to the one that Bisping employed against Stann. Stann has struggled on the ground in the past and although Silva’s wrestling isn’t great, his BJJ is significantly underrated and he could actually submit Stann on the ground. However, the nostalgia of fighting in Japan could be detrimental to Silva. With his fans cheering him on, I think he might be more likely to engage in a wild, reckless, brawl. That kind of fight favors Stann who packs more power, has a better chin and will be more prepared to react with a counter punching style. Brian Stann via TKO in Round Three

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UFC 155 Dos Santos Vs. Velasquez Results and Wrap Up

December 30, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC made its return to the land of Pay Per View last night and although some fights left fans wanting a bit more, the other bouts were loaded with action that more than made up for it. If you were unable to see some of the undercard bouts, I highly suggest you try to do so by any means possible. Melvin Guillard versus Jamie Varner, while slightly slower than expected was an entertaining bout. As well the Featherweight tilt between Leonard Garcia and Max Holloway was a highly entertaining slugfest that went for a full fifteen minutes. Add in impressive TKO victories for Heavyweight Todd Duffee and Bantamweight Erik Perez and there is some top shelf violence for those of you that like it that way.

Moving on to the main card, some of the bouts didn’t quite live up to the hype. Others such as the co-main event between Lightweights Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller more than exceeded the hype, as those two men engaged in a bloody back and forth brawl that is a definite contender for Fight of the Year consideration. The Main Event was also solid as two of the best Heavyweights in the world collided in a much better effort than their first bout on UFC on FOX 1. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers from this card and take a look at what could be next for them.

Derek Brunson defeated Chris Leben via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

The boo-birds were out right away at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for this Middleweight fight that kicked off the PPV. Although Leben is often a fan-favorite due to his slugging style, his wrestling-based opponent Brunson wanted no part of it. Brunson crowded Leben throughout the contest using clinches and takedowns to control Leben and give him very little space to get his offense going. Leben himself offered little resistance, as after a year off due to suspension, he looked like a man who wasn’t used to being in the Octagon. He looked tired and slow, and his takedown defense was almost non-existent. He was never really in too much trouble, but he definitely wasn’t ever close to winning either. Unfortunately as commentator Joe Rogan stated, the unamused look on Chris Leben’s face after Brunson’s celebration after the fight might have been the most entertaining part of the bout.

What’s next for Brunson? This card was loaded with Middleweight talent, so one might think a winner from one of the Middleweight bouts up the card would make sense for Brunson, but I think that’s too large a step for him right now. Although he earned a victory, he didn’t look great doing it and it definitely wasn’t a breakout performance. With Strikeforce officially closing its doors, I think the best fight for him would be to welcome one of his former promotion-mates to the UFC. Tim Kennedy is facing Trevor Smith at the final Strikeforce event and the winner of that bout makes some sense.

What’s next for Leben? He’s got problems, everyone knows that, but he’s always going to have a spot in the UFC because of his style. Alan Belcher got knocked off by Yushin Okami later in the card, and would prefer an opponent who would keep the fight standing. Leben fits that bill and would likely produce an entertaining rebound fight for one of the two. Belcher is almost the perfect opponent for him right now.

Yushin Okami defeated Alan Belcher via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

In the pre-fight hype videos Alan Belcher claimed that Yushin Okami couldn’t beat him if he kept the fight standing. Apparently he convinced everyone, including Okami, of that fact. Okami did what he usually does, a solid one-two jab combination right into takedown attempts and top control. Belcher had a few bright spots, as he snagged a couple of submission attempts, but none were ever close and they all ended with him in the unenviable position of being beneath Okami. In the end the Japanese fighter cruised to a Unanimous Decision.

What’s next for Okami? He’s turning into the Middleweight version of Jon Fitch. He’s good enough to beat almost anyone in the division, but he’s going to get absolutely slaughtered against the champion. Add to that he’s got a somewhat boring wrestling based approach to fighting and it’s hard to keep giving him meaningful fights where he’s likely going to knock off top contenders or up-and-comers with little fanfare. Still he moves up the ladder and a bout against other main card victor Costa Philippou might make sense. The other potential bout is one against Hector Lombard who recently scored an impressive stoppage against Rousimar Palhares.

What’s next for Belcher? Belcher’s hot streak got seriously derailed and he’s going to need to prove he can handle a wrestler like Okami before he ever gets a shot at a serious top contender at Middleweight. Still, he’s going to need a rebound fight and like I said, previous main card loser Chris Leben is the perfect foil for him. Someone who is willing to stand and trade with him and who is weak on the ground if things go bad. If the UFC wants to rebuild Belcher, he’ll get Leben next.

Costa Philippou defeated Tim Boetsch via TKO (Punches) at 2:11 of the Third Round

This wasn’t a breakout performance for Philippou that many people thought it might be. In fact, this was a truly bizarre fight. Boetsch controlled the opening round, throwing wild, looping punches that were scoring against the usually competent striking defenses of Philippou. In between rounds Boetsch complained to his corner of a broken hand and in the second, an accidental head butt opened a massive gash on his forehead and an eye poke only increased his vision problems. In the third round, he was reduced to pulling guard, but didn’t have an answer for Philippou’s ground and pound, as the referee stepped in to save Boetsch in the third round after he seemed to be looking for a way out.

What’s next for Philippou? Considering the bizarre circumstances of his win, his slow start, and the less than impressive fight from him overall, I wouldn’t complain about a possible rematch between these two. However, with Boetsch’s broken hand, he’s going to need time off. Philippou should still receive a step up in competition and needs to prove he can handle a talented wrestler, which is why I think a bout against other main card victor Yushin Okami makes a lot of sense. If they choose to go another route, former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, should be making the leap to the UFC soon enough. If he wins his bout at the final Strikeforce show against Ed Herman, I think Souza is another good fight for Philippou.

What’s next for Boetsch? Hand surgery, I guess. In all honesty, this is kind of a crappy result for Boetsch, since he took some unfortunate illegal shots to derail his game plan, which was definitely working in the first round. Still, he was undefeated in the Middleweight division until last night, so I doubt they give up hope on him yet. He’s not going to drop severely down the rankings with the circumstances surrounding the loss, so he’s in kind of a weird spot matchmaking wise. I really don’t know what they do with him here, I guess he’s going to take a step down. Karlos Vemola was supposed to fight Leben on the card, but pulled out due to injury maybe him. That or throw him against Belcher or Leben, although I think Leben is too far a step down, and I think those two should fight each other. Other than that maybe Jake Shields if he stays at Middleweight.

Jim Miller defeated Joe Lauzon via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

This one earned Fight of the Night honors and it definitely deserved it. These two guys engaged in a bloody brawl that was back and forth and had action until the final bell. Miller looked the best I’ve ever seen him and his recent loss to Nate Diaz seems to have lit a fire inside him. He may be a permanent gatekeeper in the ultra-packed Lightweight division, but he’s a tough one. His conditioning was top notch for this bout and his dirty boxing looked better than ever, as he used a tight clinch to deliver some big punches and short elbows in the first round that caused the giant gash that caused Lauzon to lose a ton of blood. To his credit Lauzon proved how tough he was in this bout, even with blood pouring out of that massive cut, he refused to let the doctor stop it and he kept coming until the final bell, sinking in a late leg lock that nearly stole the fight and in fact stole him the round on a couple of scorecards.

What’s next for Miller? He’s had fourteen fights in the UFC and he’s won most of them. His only three losses have come to the current Lightweight Champion and two of the last three Number One Contenders in Nate Diaz and Gray Maynard. He’s a true grinder and his improving striking is only going to make him an even tougher challenge for most guys. I think Rafael dos Anjos has been impressive lately and deserves a step up in competition, as the Lightweight Gatekeeper, that puts him right in Miller’s wheelhouse.

What’s next for Lauzon? He proved he’s as tough as they come and dangerous any time he’s still in the fight. He’s always going to struggle against powerful wrestlers and the elite fighters of the Lightweight division, but he’s a highly entertaining fighter with decent striking and dangerous submissions. Sounds like another top Lightweight that recently lost a title fight. Indeed a bout between Lauzon and fellow TUF 5 alumnus Nate Diaz could be an action packed affair. Give the two of them a headlining slot on an FX or Fuel TV card and give them five rounds to go bananas, fireworks are sure to follow whether that fight takes place on the feet, on the ground or anywhere in the building.

Cain Velasquez defeated Junior dos Santos to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship via Unanimous Decision after Five Rounds

For those that wrote off former champion Velasquez after his poor performance in their first bout, they were treated to a significant wake up call. Velasquez came out guns blazing against Dos Santos and immediately brought the fight to the Brazilian Champion. Although many expected Cain to be somewhat laid back like he was in their first bout, he caught everyone, including Dos Santos off-guard when he came right after him in the first round. That first round told the story of what would end up being a very one-sided contest. Cain scored an early takedown and Dos Santos was able to slip through and get back to his feet, but it didn’t slow Velasquez down. He continued forward, pressing him against the cage. Partway through the round he landed a big right hand that dropped Dos Santos for the first time in his UFC career and ended the round battering him with ground and pound. Dos Santos was clearly gassed after the first round and spent several of the next rounds trying to recover, while Velasquez continued to push the pace. Although he eventually slowed himself, he was still able to outwork Dos Santos both in the grappling department and somewhat surprisingly in the striking department en-route to a clean sweep of the scorecards, winning with scores of 50-45, 50-44 and 50-43.

What’s next for Velasquez? The Heavyweight division has a whole lot of top fighters, but they are in a weird position, where they don’t have any clear cut favorites to become the number one contender. Alistair Overeem is expected to get the first crack at Velasquez, but he’s going to need to get by Antonio Silva first, and that’s no guarantee considering what we’ve seen in the past from fighters returning from year-long suspensions. The other option is Fabricio Werdum should he emerge victorious against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, but that fight isn’t taking place until after the filming and airing of TUF: Brazil 2. The leading candidate was Daniel Cormier who recently won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix and is heading to the UFC, but Velasquez and Cormier are teammates and have already said they wouldn’t fight each other. No matter what happens, Overeem or Werdum or someone else entirely, Velasquez could be facing a bit of a layoff while the division sorts itself out.

What’s next for Dos Santos? He’s going to need to get a win or two before he gets another crack at the title. Granted if things shake out the right way, he may only need one impressive victory like Velasquez did, but the list of contenders is long and growing in the Heavyweight division. The best two possible matches I can think of for Dos Santos are the loser of the upcoming Mark Hunt and Stefan Struve fight at the UFC’s next London event, (provided it’s Hunt, since a rematch with Struve is probably not necessary for Dos Santos.) The other option is the loser of the upcoming Alistair Overeem and Antonio Silva bout, since either one of those two would be an intriguing bout, especially with the bad blood between Dos Santos and Overeem.

Full UFC 155 results & winners…
Cain Velasquez defeated Junior Dos Santos via unanimous decision to regain the UFC heavyweight title
Jim Miller defeated Joe Lauzon via unanimous decision
Costa Philippoud efeated Tim Boetsch via third-round TKO
Yushin Okami defeated Alan Belcher via unanimous decision
Derek Brunson defeated Chris Leben via unanimous decision
Eddie Wineland defeated Brad Pickett via split decision
Erik Perez defeated Byron Bloodworth via first-round TKO
Jamie Varner defeated Melvin Guillard via split decision
Myles Jury defeated Michael Johnson via unanimous decision
Todd Duffeed efeated Phil De Fries via first-round TKO
Max Holloway defeated Leonard Garcia via split decision
John Moraga defeated Chris Cariaso via submission

Chael Sonnen: The Voice of Reason: A V.I.P. Pass to Enlightenment

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UFC 155 Results: Cain Velasquez Regains UFC Title

December 30, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Cain Velasquez is an animal! Velasquez mauled Junior Dos Santos in their UFC 155 rematch proving to the MMA world that his 64 second loss to the JDS was a fluke. Velasquez won a unanimous decision to regain the UFC heavyweight title in one of the most one-sided UFC title wins in years.

Dos Santos could not stop the shot. Velasquez dominated the former champion on their feet and taking him to the ground. Velasquez had his way with Dos Santos at UFC 155, absorbing very little to punishment at all from the champion. UFC commentator Jor Rogan proclaimed at one point that he had not seen such a dominant performance by a challenger over a champion since Anderson Silva defeated Rich Franklin for the middleweight title several years ago.

Velasquez opened up looking to strike and takedown the former champion. Dos Santos did a good job early on of avoiding any serious damage until Velasquez connected with a right hand. Dos Santos was never the same after eating the shot. Velasquez swarmed in and tried to end the fight in the first round to no avail yet the tone was set by the challenger.

The rest of the fight saw Velasquez have his way with Dos Santos. Velasquez practically took Dos Santos down at will. Junior had very little offense throughout the fight and looked tired and beaten when he came out for the second round. Velasquez never stopped and was relentless in his attacks. I’ll give Dos Santos credit as he hung around for five rounds, longer than I thought he would. Dos Santos did connect on a nice uppercut as the third round. Unfortunately Dos Santos had nothing left and couldn’t follow up.

Velasquez nailed a body shot followed by an uppercut in the fourth round that staggered Dos Santos. Somehow or another Junior held on. Junior again put something together towards the end of the fourth round but couldn’t follow up. Velasquez’s cardiovascular conditioning throughout the fight was just unbelievable.

Seeing Junior standing at the start of round five after being brutalized throughout by Cain was real impressive. Junior stopped Cain from getting a takedown and wound up hitting a nice left to Cain’s body. Junior seemed to recover well by this point. Dos Santos hit a right hand and kept Cain’s takedowns at bay. Velasquez finally got the takedown at about 2:30. Cain smothered him with ground and pound. Junior got back up. Junior connected in a clinch. Velasquez hit a head kick with about :30 seconds to go. Junior looked like he had been brutalized while Cain looked like he wasn’t even scratched as the fifth and final round closed. Velasquez was shortly named new UFC champion by unanimous decision.

What’s next for the UFC world champion? In my opinion I think Cain is the most well rounded UFC heavyweight champion in history. He should have a dominant reign as champion barring an injury. He could face either Alistair Overeem or Fabricio Werdum if either man wins their next fight. Overeem would be the favorite but Dana White mentioned that Werdum would be a top contender if he wins his next fight against Big Nog.

I’d love to see a third fight between JDS and Velasquez. I think this rivalry has the potential to be one of the greatest trilogies of all time. It wouldn’t shock me to see fight number three in the fall or winter of 2013.

Look for a full recap and analysis of UFC 155 here on the Camel Clutch Blog shortly by Lee McGregor.

Full UFC 155 results & winners…
Cain Velasquez defeated Junior Dos Santos via unanimous decision to regain the UFC heavyweight title
Jim Miller defeated Joe Lauzon via unanimous decision
Costa Philippoud efeated Tim Boetsch via third-round TKO
Yushin Okami defeated Alan Belcher via unanimous decision
Derek Brunson defeated Chris Leben via unanimous decision
Eddie Wineland defeated Brad Pickett via split decision
Erik Perez defeated Byron Bloodworth via first-round TKO
Jamie Varner defeated Melvin Guillard via split decision
Myles Jury defeated Michael Johnson via unanimous decision
Todd Duffeed efeated Phil De Fries via first-round TKO
Max Holloway defeated Leonard Garcia via split decision
John Moraga defeated Chris Cariaso via submission

Chael Sonnen: The Voice of Reason: A V.I.P. Pass to Enlightenment

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UFC 155 Dos Santos Vs. Velasquez 2 Predictions & Analysis

December 29, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC returns to the land of Pay Per View this weekend with their traditional New Year’s Eve card. Despite not technically taking place on New Year’s Eve, the UFC has more than made up for it by packing this card with talent and intriguing match-ups from top to bottom. Headlining the card is a rematch that everyone has been clamoring for since their first meeting as the headliner for the UFC’s first event on the Fox Network as UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos battles the man he defeated for the title Cain Velasquez.

The co-main event of the evening features a Lightweight tilt that will move the winner significantly up the ladder in terms of placement in what is arguably the UFC’s deepest division as Joe Lauzon battles Jim Miller. Three Middleweight bouts are on the docket for the rest of the main card and many of them feature top ranked contenders. First up are Middleweight brawlers Tim Boetsch taking on Constantinos Philippou. The next Middleweight contest features former number one contender Yushin Okami taking on emerging contender Alan Belcher. The opening contest of the Pay Per View Main Card features fan and Dana White favourite Chris Leben taking on Strikeforce import Derek Brunson.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Flyweight Bout: Chris Cariaso vs. John Moraga

Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso is a 31-year-old fighter from Oakland, California. He is a member of the Fight and Fitness Gym in San Francisco, California. Cariaso holds a career record of 14-3 and recently won his UFC Flyweight debut at UFC on Fuel TV 4. John Moraga is a 28-year-old former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Phoenix, Arizona. He is a member of the MMA Lab in Arizona where he trains with UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson. He holds a career record of 12-1.

Quick Pick: John Moraga via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Leonard Garcia vs. Max Holloway

Leonard “Bad Boy” Garcia is a 33-year-old fighter from Plainview, Texas. He is a member of Greg Jackson’s Team training in New Mexico. The brawler and fan favourite holds a career record of 15-9, but has never been knocked out and hasn’t been in a boring fight throughout the course of his career. Max “Blessed” Holloway is a 21-year-old fighter from Waanae, Hawaii and is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster. He is a member of the Gracie Technics Gym in his hometown and holds a career record of 6-1.

Quick Pick: Max Holloway via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Heavyweight Bout: Phil De Fries vs. Todd Duffee

Phil De Fries is a 26-year-old fighter from Sunderland, England. The massive Brit is a talented grappler who now trains in the USA with the Alliance MMA Gym in Chula Vista, California. He holds a career record of 9-1 with 1 No Contest. Todd Duffee is a 27-year-old fighter from Evansville, Indiana. Duffee is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California and those striking skills have earned him the record for the fastest Knockout in UFC history at 7 seconds. He holds a career record of 7-2.

Quick Pick: Todd Duffee via KO in Round One

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Michael Johnson vs. Myles Jury

Michael “The Menace” Johnson is a 26-year-old fighter from St. Louis, Missouri. He is a member of the Blackzillians training in Boca Raton, Florida. The former TUF cast member holds a career record of 12-6, but is currently on a three fight winning streak. Myles “The Fury” Jury is a 24-year-old fighter from Hazel Park, Michigan. He is a member of the Alliance MMA Gym in San Diego, California. He holds a perfect professional record of 10-0.

Quick Pick: Michael Johnson via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner

Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard is a 29-year-old fighter from New Orleans, Louisiana. He is a member of the Blackzillians training out of the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds a career record of 30-11-2 with 1 No Contest. Jamie “The Worm” Varner is a 28-year-old fighter from Phoenix, Arizona. He is a former WEC Lightweight Champion who trains out of the AMA Fight Club in New Jersey. He holds a career record of 20-7-1 with 2 No Contests. This bout was supposed to take place two weeks ago at The Ultimate Fighter finale, but a last minute illness to Varner forced the bout to be postponed.

Quick Pick: Melvin Guillard via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Erik Perez vs. Byron Bloodworth

Erik “Goyito” Perez is a 23-year-old fighter from Monterrey, Mexico. He now resides in the USA and trains with Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He holds a career record of 12-4, but is 2-0 in the UFC with two stoppage victories. Byron Bloodworth is a 29-year-old fighter from Lynchburg, Virginia. Bloodworth is a member of the Iron Clutch Fitness Gym in Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a professional record of 6-2.

Quick Pick: Erik Perez via Submission in Round One

Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Eddie Wineland vs. Brad Pickett

Eddie Wineland is a 28-year-old fighter from Houston, Texas. Wineland was the inaugural WEC Bantamweight Champion. He trains out of the Duneland Vale Tudo Gym in Portage, Indiana. Wineland holds a career record of 19-8-1 with 16 Stoppage victories. Brad “One Punch” Pickett is a 34-year-old fighter from London, England. A former Cage Rage Featherweight Champion he now trains stateside with the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Pickett holds a career record of 22-6.

Quick Pick: Brad Pickett via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Chris Leben vs. Derek Brunson

Chris “The Crippler” Leben is a 32-year-old fighter from Portland, Oregon. Leben is a fan favourite known for his iron chin and his brawling style, but lately he’s also become known as a troubled fighter who will be returning from a one-year-suspension. He was a cast member on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and has been in the UFC ever since. He is a member of the Icon Fitness MMA Gym in Oahu, Hawaii. The brawler holds a career record of 22-8.

Derek “Wrecking Ball” Brunson is a 28-year-old fighter from Wilmington, North Carolina. He is a former NCAA Division 2 All-American Wrestler from the University of North Carolina. He is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico. Brunson has power in his hands, but his technical striking skills are still developing. He does his best work on the mat, when he can control his opponents by using his top shelf wrestling skills. After starting his career undefeated at 9-0, he has suffered two straight defeats in 2012 to move his record to 9-2.

Analysis and Prediction: To me I think this one comes down a lot to how Leben responds to being off for a year. Brunson has shown some promise in his fights, but he still remains a pretty raw and unproven talent against top shelf competition. Besides Jacare Souza, Leben will be by far his stiffest competition and he’s taking the fight on late notice. Leben is a more complete striker and he’s probably been drilling takedown defense since his loss to Mark Munoz. Really I have a hard time imagining Brunson winning this fight, unless Leben looks like a shell of his former self. Chris Leben via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Yushin Okami vs. Alan Belcher

Yushin “Thunder” Okami is a 31-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. A former UFC Middleweight Title Challenger, Okami is one of the top Middleweight fighters in the UFC. Okami is a talented grinder, who does his best work using a ground based, wrestling and top control oriented game plan. He holds a black belt in Judo, which he uses well to earn trips and takedowns when standing. Okami is a member of Team Quest, training with Chael Sonnen in Portland, Oregon. He actually holds a career victory over Belcher already, having defeated Belcher in his UFC debut. Okami holds a professional record of 27-7.

Alan “The Talent” Belcher is a 28-year-old from Jonesboro, Arkansas. Recently after an eye injury caused a yearlong layoff and almost cost him his career, he has reeled off four straight stoppage victories and has emerged as a rising contender in the Middleweight division. Belcher is a talented striker who holds a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and a black belt in Duke Roufus Kickboxing. Belcher is also an underrated grappler who holds a brown belt in Judo and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Belcher is a member of the Roufusport Gym in Biloxi, Mississippi training under famed kick boxer Duke Roufus. He holds a career record of 18-6.

Analysis and Prediction: Belcher is a talented striker and his grappling game is definitely significantly underrated by a lot of people, but this isn’t a great match up for him. Okami is massive for Middleweight and he’s strong and perfectly content to wrestle his way to victories. In his last bout Okami was thoroughly dominating Tim Boetsch on the ground until a third round miracle comeback. Belcher is talented and dangerous on the feet, but I really don’t think Okami is going to give him time to get comfortable there. I expect a steady stream of one-twos and takedowns from Okami as he wrestles his way to a decision victory. Yushin Okami via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Tim Boetsch vs. Constantinos Philippou

Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch is a 31-year-old fighter from Lincolnville, Maine. He is a former NCAA Wrestler from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and often uses his wrestling skills to grind against his opponents on the mat. Boetsch is also a talented striker with big power, who owns a black belt in Jeet Kune Do. The former Light Heavyweight fighter has enjoyed a string of success since dropping to the UFC’s Middleweight division as he is currently on a four fight winning streak, including victories over Nick Ring, Kendall Grove, Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard. Boetsch is a member of the AMC Pankration Gym in Maine. He holds a career record of 16-4.

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Constantinos “Costa” Philippou is a 33-year-old fighter who was born in Limassol, Cyprus. He now resides and trains in New York City, New York where he is a member of the Serra-Longo Fight Team. Philippou is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but does his best work in the striking department. He is a talented and powerful striker who is technically sound and can throw bombs with the best of the Middleweight division. Currently riding a four fight-winning streak, Philippou holds a pro record of 11-2 with 1 No Contest.

Analysis and Prediction: Philippou has come a long way since his UFC debut where he was outworked on the mat by Nick Catone, but the game plan to defeat him likely remains the same. Boetsch has had a successful run since making the drop to Middleweight and he’s simply massive for the weight class. His style has remained the same as he remains a true grinder. He does his best work in close, using clinches to utilize dirty boxing and score trips and takedowns from there where he can work his top control game and ground and pound. Philippou needs to keep this fight at a distance if he wants to be successful, but I don’t think his footwork can keep him at range long enough to win this fight. Despite some success for Philippou I think Boetsch moves his way up the ladder another rung. Tim Boetsch via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller

Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon is a 28-year-old fighter from East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Lauzon is best known for his highly entertaining style of fighting, as he’s taken home 11 post-fight bonuses during his UFC career. Lauzon’s striking is decent and fundamentally sound, although at times he uses a bit too much boxing and not enough kicks to be wholly effective. Still, he does his best work on the mat, as the purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is excellent at creating submission opportunities during sweeps on the mat. The former Ultimate Fighter cast member is the head trainer of his own gym Lauzon MMA in Massachusetts and holds a career record of 22-7.

Jim Miller is a 29-year-old fighter from Sparta Township, New Jersey. Miller is taking this fight as a late replacement for Gray Maynard. Miller is one half of the Miller Brothers, as his older brother Dan also competes in the UFC as a Welterweight. Miller is a member of the AMA Fight Club in New Jersey, where he is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Miller is an aggressive fighter who is constantly moving forward against his opponents. His striking is fairly rudimentary, but he has decent power and a strong one-two which transitions well into takedown shots that he blends well. On the mat, Miller is a talented grappler who is dangerous anytime that there is a scramble on the mat. He holds a career record of 21-4.

Analysis and Prediction: Both of these guys are aggressive and love to fight balls to the wall. Both are also decent strikers that do their best work on the mat, so it will be an interesting styles clash to say the least. Lauzon has to be one of the best first round fighters in the UFC, as he absolutely storms out of the gates constantly searching for a finish, if he’s smart he’s been watching Nate Diaz’s one sided beat down of Miller over and over to glean some tips from it. That loss may also be important to Miller, since it will be his first fight since and how he responds to that loss will say a lot about how this fight goes down. Miller has the skills to grind out a decision using his wrestling to control and dominate Lauzon on the mat, but Lauzon is very dangerous at any time. As it is I think Miller uses takedowns and top control to wear out Lauzon and eventually comes away with a decision victory, sealing the deal in the third round. Jim Miller via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Championship Bout: Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez

Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos is a 28-year-old Brazilian fighter from Santa Catarina, Brazil. He is the reigning and defending UFC Heavyweight Champion, a belt that he won from his challenger Cain Velasquez. Dos Santos is one of the most talented and hardest hitting strikers in the Heavyweight division, owning 11Knockouts in 15 career victories. Dos Santos also has excellent grappling skills, holding a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under famed fighter Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Dos Santos is a member of the Black House Gym, training with Team Nogueira in Bahia, Brazil. Dos Santos is a dangerous fighter, who already holds a career victory via first round knockout against Velasquez. He holds a professional record of 15-1 and hasn’t lost since November of 2007.

Cain Velasquez is a Mexican-American fighter from Salinas, California. The 30-year-old is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Arizona State University. Velasquez is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California and is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion. Velasquez holds a brown belt in Guerilla Jiu Jitsu, which is a form of submission grappling more suited to modern MMA. Despite his previous loss to Dos Santos, many people have claimed that he took the bout with a significant knee injury since it was the UFC’s debut on Fox, and really shouldn’t have been fighting in the first place. Still, he remains a dangerous fighter wherever the bout takes place, as his striking has been rapidly improving and he’s a nightmare for anyone to handle on the mat. In his last bout he absolutely demolished Antonio Silva on the ground and left him a bloody mess, before finally earning a TKO in the first round. Velasquez holds a career record of 10-1, with his only loss coming against Dos Santos.

Analysis and Prediction: For many people the biggest question heading in to this contest is ‘Can Cain earn a takedown against Dos Santos?’ A man who has proven to be nearly impossible to takedown in the UFC, in fact he’s only been taken down once in his entire UFC career and it lasted for only seconds. For me, I think a more important question to consider is how is Dos Santos going to be able to handle himself if he does in fact end up underneath of Velasquez.

Cain has one of the most aggressive and nasty top games in the Heavyweight division. He throws ground and pound with bad intentions and his elbows can absolutely end your night as they cause significant damage. Cain is also a better striker than he showed in the first bout and to be honest, I think the injuries to both fighters are significant enough that the results of the first contest are barely even useful in a true fight analysis. Dos Santos’ trainers claim that he has one of the best ground games in the Heavyweight division, but even that isn’t going to be enough to contain Cain Velasquez, if he manages to score a takedown.

Dos Santos is surely going to be focusing on keeping this bout upright. Despite his claims that he’s ready to submit someone in the UFC, I’m not convinced he’s going to be pulling guard against a wrestler as talented as Velasquez. So for him, he’ll need to use footwork and an effective sprawl and brawl style to keep the bout standing and look for the big knockout shot. He’s shown that he can knock out almost anyone, if he hits them cleanly. Unfortunately I don’t think Velasquez will be nearly as slow or hittable as he was in their last encounter.

I don’t think Dos Santos can keep Velasquez at bay, and I think his advantage on the ground is far more significant that Dos Santos’ edge on the feet. That alone, combined with the fact that we’re going to see a significantly better and strong Velasquez make me think it’s going to be time for the challenger to reclaim his belt. I think he stops Dos Santos with strikes in the third round. Cain Velasquez via TKO in Round Three

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UFC 150 Henderson Vs. Edgar II Results – Henderson Retains Via Decision

August 12, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Frankie Edgar wasn’t supposed to be challenging for the UFC lightweight title at UFC 150. Yet after a public campaign, Edgar wound up getting the immediate rematch. Edgar and Henderson picked up where they left off in Japan and ended with even more controversy than before.

Ben Henderson retained the UFC lightweight title over Frankie Edgar via split decision in Denver, Colorado Saturday night at UFC 150. The five-round fight saw some high moments, yet I found it to be pretty disappointing as compared to their first fight. You won’t see any real highlight moments such as the up kick from their last fight but what you will see is a decision that I think was one of the worst in UFC history.

I was stunned when Bruce Buffer read the cards and announced Benson Henderson as the winner. I almost expected him to interrupt the post-fight interview and say that he read the wrong name. Did Frankie Edgar dominate Benson Henderson for three rounds? No, but there is no way that Ben Henderson did enough through five rounds to come away with the win. I’ll give him the first round, but I watched Frankie Edgar win and barely win the next four rounds of the battle.

Henderson opened up with a series of brutal kicks to Edgar’s left calf. Edgar’s calf was already starting to swell up by the end of round 1. Henderson wound up catching Edgar in a choke as the round closed. It was a clear win of a round for the champion. I cannot understand for the life of me why Henderson got away from the kicks for the rest of the fight. Frankie started catching some kicks but I can’t imagine Edgar even standing past round four if Henderson continued what he started in the first round.

Instead Henderson fought either scared or overconfident in my opinion for the rest of the fight. Henderson never pushed the pace or engaged, other than throwing up a couple of kicks from time to time. Edgar never exactly pushed the pace either but he did more in my opinion to engage the champion than anything Henderson did for the final four rounds. Edgar had Henderson in a choke twice and rocked him a couple of times but was unable to put him away. In the end I think Edgar was robbed, but he has nobody to blame but himself for allowing the fight to go to the judges.

One thing I don’t want to read is how Frankie Edgar is too small for the division. I was outraged after their last fight with all of the blogs and columns calling for Frankie to leave the division. Edgar not only held his own with Henderson, I believe he won. I would like to see Edgar hang around the division and go through whoever it is he needs to go through in order to get a rematch. It certainly wasn’t the most exciting fight in the world, but I do think Edgar deserves more of a rematch now than he did after their first fight in Tokyo.

UFC president Dana White has been adamant all week that there will be no immediate rematch. Nate Diaz is next in line no matter who won and how. I can say this much about Nate Diaz. Nate Diaz vs. Benson Henderson will not be a boring fight. There is no such thing as a boring fight with Nate Diaz. I will be surprised to see the fight go to the judges. Either Diaz finishes it or he leaves himself open for Henderson to put him away. I would be shocked to see the fight go five rounds.

Full UFC 150 Henderson vs. Edgar 2 results & winners…
Benson Henderson defeated Frankie Edgar via split decision
Donald Cerrone defeated Melvin Guillard via first-round KO
Jake Shields defeated Ed Herman via unanimous decision
Yushin Okami defeated Buddy Roberts via second-round TKO
Max Holloway defeated Justin Lawrence via second-round TKO
Dennis Bermudez defeated Tommy Hayden via submission (guillotine)
Michael Kuiper defeated Jared Hamman via second-round TKO
Erik Perez defeated Ken Stone via first-round TKO
Chico Camus defeated Dustin Pague via unanimous decision
Nik Lentz defeated Eiji Mitsuoka via first-round TKO

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UFC 150 Henderson Vs. Edgar II Predictions & Analysis

August 10, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC will be looking to build on an impressive Fox card with their return to Denver, Colorado. The last time the UFC took to the mountains of Colorado, the card featured a number of big athletes slowing down in the thin mountain air, leading to lackluster affairs and slow paced brawls. The UFC seems to have learned from past mistakes, as this card features men no larger than the Middleweight limit of 185-pounds.

The main event features re-match virtuoso and former UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie “The Answer” Edgar looking to regain his title from the man that took it from him “Smooth” Benson Henderson. The co-main event features a Lightweight tilt that seems to have Fight of the Night written all over it, as former teammates collide when Melvin Guillard battles Donald Cerrone. Other main card action features two Middleweight tilts and a potential Featherweight slugfest. In Middleweight action Jake Shields returns to the division for the first time in the UFC as he takes on resurgent veteran Ed Herman. Japanese standout Yushin Okami looks to get back to his winning ways in a bout against late-replacement Buddy Roberts. Kicking off the main card is a Featherweight bout between Max Holloway and Justin Lawrence.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Nik Lentz vs. Eiji Mitsuoka

Nik “The Carny” Lentz is an American fighter from El Paso, Texas. Lentz is a member of the American Top Team Gym based out of Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Lentz is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from the University of Minnesota. This will be Lentz’s first bout at 145-pounds, after spending the majority of his career at Lightweight. Lentz owns a professional MMA record of 21-5-2. Eiji Mitsuoka is a Japanese fighter from Handa, Aichi, Japan. The 36-year-old is a member of the Wajyutsu Keisuyaki RJW Dojo in Saitama, Japan. Mitsuoka has a background in Freestyle Wrestling and has fought for a number of major Asian MMA Promotions including DREAM, World Victory Road, PRIDE, Shooto and DEEP. He holds a professional record of 18-8-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Both of these fighters rely on their wrestling to get them through fights. While neither fighter is completely awful in the striking department, neither one of them is going to be looking to keep this bout standing. This means that it will likely become a battle of takedowns and submission attempts. In a wrestling battle I’ll usually favor an NCAA alumnus versus a Japanese wrestler (unless it’s Yushin Okami), so I think Lentz lands more takedowns and is able to stay out of submissions from on top and grinds out a decision victory. Just don’t expect fireworks. Nik Lentz via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Dustin Pague vs. Chico Camus

Dustin “The Disciple” Pague is an American fighter from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The 25-year-old is a member of the TapouT Ranch in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Pague is best known from his stint on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter where he lost in the semi-finals. Pague has a pro record of 11-6 and has finished all eleven of the opponents that he’s defeated. Chico “King” Camus is a member of the Roufusport Gym in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This fight will be Camus’ UFC debut and Pague will represent a pretty significant step up in competition for him. While most Roufusport fighters are excellent strikers, Camus isn’t really a kickboxing expert but is fairly well rounded. He holds a career record of 11-3.

Analysis and Prediction: Pague is definitely not the world’s greatest striker, but he will hold a height and reach advantage, which will probably negate some of Camus’ striking edge. Despite being well rounded he’s definitely going to be overmatched by Pague’s grappling skills on the mat. The question then becomes whether Pague can work the fight to the mat often enough to take advantage of that edge. I think he eventually does and secures a rear-naked choke late in the second. Dustin Pague via Submission in Round Two 

Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Ken Stone vs. Erik Perez

Ken Stone is an American fighter from Holliston, Massachusetts. He is a member of the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Stone is a former NCAA wrestler from Bridgewater State University. Stone is a very well rounded fighter but has had a rough go in his Zuffa career. His ability to fight at a distance could prove to be a huge edge in this fight. He holds a career record of 11-3. Erik “Goyito” Perez is a 22-year-old fighter from Monterrey, Mexico. He is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Perez is a high-octane grappler who excels in fast-paced grapple-heavy bouts where he can take advantage of quick scrambles and latch onto submissions. He holds a career record of 11-4, with 7 wins coming by way of tap out.

Analysis and Prediction: Stone is definitely the more well rounded of these two fighters. Perez looked very impressive in his UFC debut against John Albert in a one-round bout that took place almost exclusively on the mat. Stone however has shown a solid ability to sprawl in some of his more recent fights. That ability will be integral to this bout as his strategy will surely be to use a steady diet of kicks and sprawl-and-brawl, while Perez will surely be looking to drag the fight to the mat. If Stone can keep the bout upright, he wins, if not expect Perez to turn him into a pretzel. Ken Stone via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Middleweight Bout: Jared Hamman vs. Michael Kuiper

Jared “The Messenger” Hamman is an American fighter from Atascadero, California. Hamman is a former Light Heavyweight fighter who didn’t have much success at the weight class and has since dropped to Middleweight. Hamman actually played college football at the University of Redlands before becoming a fighter. He is a member of the VMAT Gym training under the tutelage of MMA pioneer Vladimir Matyushenko. Hamman holds a career record of 13-4. Michael “Judo” Kuiper is a Dutch fighter from Riel, Netherlands. The 23-year-old is a member of the Gracie Barra Gym in Tiburg, Netherlands. Like his nickname suggests he has a background in Judo and holds a black belt in the sport. Kuiper is also an excellent striker in addition to his Judo black belt and grappling skills. He holds a career record of 11-1, with ten stoppage victories, with the lone loss being his UFC debut.

Analysis and Prediction: Kuiper actually was fairly impressive in his UFC debut but began to tire at the end of the bout, mostly because he was outmuscled and leaned on by a larger fighter. Hamman has had some success but he hasn’t been able to do much against UFC competition except get beat up until his opponent gasses and then take advantage on the ground. I expect Kuiper will be more acclimated to fighting in the US and for the UFC in this bout and his cardio won’t be an issue. He is a more talented striker than Hamman and throws with enough power to stop anyone in their tracks. Hamman will have a wrestling advantage, but Kuiper’s judo may be the ace in the hole that helps him avoid the ground game. If Kuiper can keep a solid pace I think his striking will get earn him a stoppage, if he punches himself out or the thin Denver air gets to him, Hamman will be right there ready to take advantage. Still, I’ll stick with the Dutchman. Michael Kuiper via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Dennis Bermudez vs. Tommy Hayden

Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez is an American fighter from Saugerties, New York. He is a 25-year-old fighter from the Long Island MMA Gym. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. Bermudez was a finalist on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He holds a professional record of 8-3. Tommy “Wildcard” Hayden is an American fighter from Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a member of the Jorge Gurgel MMA and Fitness Academy in his hometown. Hayden is a talented grappler, but looked completely out of sorts in his UFC debut against Fabricio Camoes who absolutely worked him on the ground. Still Hayden holds a career record of 8-1, with his lone loss being the aforementioned UFC debut loss to Camoes.

Analysis and Prediction: Hayden is a grappler with a knack for searching out submissions. Bermudez has struggled in the past against talented submission artists, but seems to have plugged those holes in his game. In his last bout against Pablo Garza (a talented grappler in his own right) Bermudez simply smothered him on the ground, using ground and pound to keep Garza at bay and on the wrong-end of a beating on the mat. If Bermudez gets sloppy on the mat Hayden definitely has the tools to make him pay for it. But I expect to see a lot of takedowns and a lot of smothering top control from Bermudez en-route to a decision victory. Dennis Bermudez via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (PPV): Featherweight Bout: Justin Lawrence vs. Max Holloway

Justin “The Hammer” Lawrence is an American fighter from Pacific, Missouri. The 22-year-old is a member of the Blackhouse MMA Gym in Los Angeles, California. As a member of the Black House he trains with some of Brazil’s top fighters including Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida and the Nogueira brothers. Lawrence is a talented striker with international credentials including Pan-American Kickboxing Champion (twice) and being the St. Louis Golden Gloves champion twice. Lawrence is undefeated as a professional fighter, holding a career record of 4-0.

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Max “Blessed” Holloway is an American fighter from Waianae, Hawaii. The 20-year-old made his UFC debut as a late replacement fighter against Dustin Poirier and put up a hell of a fight before succumbing to the grappling skills of Poirier. Holloway like his opponent is a talented striker who incorporates a number of flashy kicks and knees into his striking. Holloway is a competent boxer who has an excellent jab and seems to be from the Nick Diaz school of MMA striking as he happily throws punches to the body often. Holloway holds a professional MMA record of 5-1, with his lone loss coming on short-notice to Dustin Poirier.

Analysis and Prediction: Despite the relative inexperience of these two fighters, they are both extremely talented strikers with a wealth of kickboxing experience. Lawrence is probably the more technically precise striker and throws a more textbook kickboxing style at you. Holloway on the other hand incorporates a number of kicks, knees and elbows in his game and fights very well from the inside. I’ll put it out there, that this is my dark horse pick for Fight of the Night as it should be a mostly stand up affair. I think Holloway’s flashy style wins over the judges as he takes a very close decision. Max Holloway via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (PPV): Middleweight Bout: Yushin Okami vs. Buddy Roberts

Yushin “Thunder” Okami is a Japanese fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. He is a former title challenger in the UFC’s Middleweight division and is one of the top fighters in the division. He is looking to right the ship after a recent loss to Tim Boetsch where he dominated the first two rounds of the fight, before succumbing to strikes in the third round in a Comeback of the Year performance. Okami is a member of the Team Quest Gym when training in the USA and is a member of the Wajyutsu Keisyukai Dojo in Japan. Okami is a talented wrestler who has excellent top control and is also a black belt in Judo. Okami has shown improvements in his striking in his more recent bouts, but he still does his best work by pressing forward in search of takedowns and using ground and pound to smother his opponents. Okami is also one of the biggest and strongest Middleweights in the UFC. He holds a professional record of 26-7.

Buddy Roberts is a 29-year-old fighter from Fort Worth, Texas. He is a member of Greg Jackson’s Camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Roberts is actually a late-replacement to fight Okami, but was in training to fight Chris Camozzi on this card before Camozzi was forced to withdraw. Roberts is a talented striker who showed excellent takedown defense in his UFC debut against Caio Magalhaes. Despite his success against Magalhaes he will not want to give Okami many chances to engage in clinches or get close enough to shoot for takedowns as Okami has some of the best wrestling in the Middleweight division. Roberts will need to fight at a range, using leg kicks and a strong jab to maintain distance while avoiding the excellent jab that Okami has begun throwing in recent bouts. Roberts holds a career record of 12-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Although he showed excellent abilities to shrug off takedowns in his UFC debut, Roberts will have a much tougher time shrugging Okami off of him. Once Okami gets his hands on an opponent, it’s rare that they are able to shake him off. Okami is coming off back-to-back knockout losses so he may be slightly gun-shy in close, if that happens, Roberts must be ready to take advantage of even the slightest openings and strike quickly. I like Okami a lot in this bout and I think he’ll come out with the right game plan to close the distance, pummel Roberts in the clinch and work the fight to the ground. From there he should be able to batter Roberts and either take a lopsided decision or pound out a late stoppage. Yushin Okami via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (PPV): Middleweight Bout: Jake Shields vs. Ed Herman

Jake Shields is finally making his return to his more natural weight of 185-pounds. Despite challenging for a title at 170-pounds, Shields often looked tired and gassed easily, at 185-pounds he shouldn’t struggle so much with the cut and should actually improve his strength and stamina. Shields is a member of the Cesar Gracie Fight Team fighting out of San Francisco, California. Shields is a former NCAA Division 2 Wrestler from Cuesta College and is also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Shields’ striking game remains relatively weak, as he uses it solely to close the distance to a spot where he can shoot for takedowns effectively. However, his wrestling and top control is excellent and he is very dangerous from the top. Instead of simply grinding on his opponents, Shields is very active from top control, constantly using ground and pound and passing guard to more advantageous positions while searching out submission opportunities. Shields is a former Strikeforce and Elite XC Middleweight Champion with a professional record of 27-6-1.

Ed “Short Fuse” Herman is an American fighter who is in the middle of a career resurgence. The 31-year-old from Vancouver, Washington suffered an awful knee injury in a 2009 bout against Aaron Simpson and was sidelined for nearly two years. Since returning to the cage Herman is 3-0 with three stoppage victories. Herman is a former cast-member of The Ultimate Fighter 3 and actually made it to the finals before losing to the show-winner Kendall Grove. Herman is a member of the Team Quest Gym in Fort Collins, Colorado and is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Like his opponent Herman isn’t going to be winning any boxing titles, but uses his striking to close the distance. Herman holds a career record of 20-8.

Analysis and Prediction: Herman has looked good since returning to action after nearly a two-year layoff, however, Shields is his toughest test to date. Both fighters are talented wrestlers and excellent grapplers, but both of them due their best work from top position. While Herman prefers aggressive ground and pound, Shields is constantly looking to pass guard and advance his position on the search for submissions. In the past Shields has struggled against strikers who can keep him from taking them down. Herman’s striking doesn’t pose much of a threat and I think Shields will look significantly more impressive physically at 185-pounds than he did at 170. I expect Shields uses constant takedowns and smothering top control to take a Unanimous Decision, although a late submission isn’t impossible either. Jake Shields via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (PPV): Lightweight Bout: Donald Cerrone vs. Melvin Guillard

Donald “The Cowboy” Cerrone is a 29-year-old fighter from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Cerrone is a member of Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting Camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Cerrone is a former professional Muay Thai kick boxer and has translated his striking skills well into his octagon career. Under the training of Greg Jackson though Cerrone has also put together impressive grappling credentials and has submitted 13 of his career opponents. At 6’0” tall and with a 73-inch reach he will be at a slight advantage in the range department and will likely look to keep Guillard from getting inside against him. Cerrone’s best bet in this bout would be to work this fight to the ground and search for a submission against the submissionally challenged Guillard, but Cerrone usually isn’t one to back down from a stand up brawl. Cerrone holds a career record of 18-4.

Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard is an American fighter from New Orleans, Louisiana. He was a cast-member on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. Guillard is a former teammate of Cerrone’s from the Jackson’s MMA camp but has since relocated to join the Blackzillians in Boca Raton, Florida. Despite a somewhat spotty record inside the UFC, Guillard remains one of the most dangerous strikers in the division. He is also one of the most athletically gifted fighters in all of the UFC and certainly in the entire Lightweight division. Guillard has quick hands and excellent footwork and has the knockout power to end anyone’s night in one shot. Guillard has a career record of 30-10-2 with 1 No Contest, including 19 wins by KO or TKO.

Analysis and Prediction: This one could be a Fight of the Night earning brawl or it could be an extremely short fight, it likely depends on what kind of game plan Cerrone brings to the table. Guillard’s grappling is a huge liability, submissions have accounted for nine of his ten career losses and at times he looks completely helpless on the mat. Cerrone is a talented grappler with excellent submissions, so really he should be looking to shoot for a takedown and drag this fight to the mat as early as possible. The problem is, I don’t think he will. Cerrone is never one to back down from a striking match, even if it isn’t to his advantage, something he proved in his one-sided loss to Nate Diaz. Cerrone has an incredible chin and has never been finished in a kickboxing bout or MMA bout in his career, which spans over 50 bouts. However, he also relies on his chin a lot, as he is extremely hittable at times (again using the Diaz fight as an example he was tagged by a record 260 strikes throughout the course of the bout.) Frankly, the longer Cerrone keeps this fight standing the longer he puts himself in harms way. Despite his strong chin, I think he’s playing with fire to just keep giving Guillard free chances to land the kill shot. The smart money says that Cerrone works the bout to the mat and taps Guillard easily. I think the more likely outcome is that Cerrone comes to brawl and ends up paying for it. Melvin Guillard via TKO in Round Three

Main Card (PPV): Lightweight Championship Bout: Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson

Frankie “The Answer” Edgar is an American fighter from Toms River, New Jersey. He is a former UFC Lightweight Champion and is re-matching the man who took that title from him. It’s his third straight title rematch and it’s notable that he’s currently 2-0 in rematches for the Lightweight title. Edgar is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. However, in his bouts he employs a more boxing heavy style as of late. This style has worked well for him, as he employs great footwork and head movement to keep himself out of range of his opponents and ducks in and out against his opponents. He is a technically sound boxer with a good jab and strong 1-2 combinations. Edgar is a member of the Renzo Gracie Combat Team training under noted BJJ stars Ricardo Almeida and Renzo Gracie. Edgar holds a professional MMA record of 14-2-1, with his only losses coming to Gray Maynard and Benson Henderson.

Benson “Smooth” Henderson is the reigning and defending UFC Lightweight Champion. Henderson is a 28-year-old from Colorado Springs, Colorado and is a complete package when it comes to MMA. He is an aggressive striker who constantly presses forward while dictating a high-tempo fight pace on his opponents. Henderson has excellent Muay Thai kick boxing skills and is a talented grappler as well, with a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Henderson also owns a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and is a former NAIA Wrestler from Dana College. Henderson is a member of the MMA Lab fighting out of Glendale, Arizona. Henderson is a very large Lightweight fighter and the size differential between himself and Edgar (who cuts very little weight to make 155 pounds) was visibly noticeable in their first bout, he’ll likely be looking to use his size and strength advantage in this bout once again by working from in close. Henderson holds a professional record of 16-2.

Analysis and Prediction: The first bout between these two men was extremely close with many MMA publications and website who were scoring the fight admitting that they had no clue where the scores would end up. With that said, I am somewhat surprised to see how uneven this betting line has become. In the opening bout I think a couple of things hurt Edgar. Number one was the up kick that crumpled him in the second round, which I think he could have won had it not been for the kick that floored him, as well he never seemed to fully regain his composure after that shot. The second thing that went against him was how badly beat up his face looked, despite landing similar numbers of strikes in the bout Edgar’s face was badly damaged while Henderson looked relatively fresh. This can most likely be chalked up to the size advantage that Henderson enjoys against Edgar.

I’ll start by breaking down what I think Edgar needs to do to win his championship back before moving onto Henderson’s keys to victories. Firstly, Edgar needs to stop catching Henderson’s kicks and doing nothing with it. I believe that the judges didn’t appreciate the amount of kicks he was catching and blocking because of how little he did with it afterwards. Henderson didn’t stop throwing those kicks across the whole five round fight the first time, despite many of them being caught, so it’s unlikely he’ll abandon that strategy again in this fight. Edgar should look to kick Henderson’s legs out from under him, or deliver power shots when he catches those kicks in this bout. Secondly, Edgar needs to do more with his takedowns in this fight. Despite soring 5 takedowns to Henderson’s 1, he rarely could corral Henderson on the mat and mount any significant offense. Edgar needs to stop rushing things on the mat, once he scores a takedown off a single leg or with a power double, he needs to relax, take control and then work on advancing his position and using light ground and pound until he can get comfortable. In the first bout, he simply started swinging away at times, instead of focusing on keeping Henderson under control. Lastly, more striking volume and more movement. He definitely had Henderson flustered at times with his movement, but instead of rushing in, he needs to choose his shots better. And when Edgar steps in to range, he knows he’s going to get hit, but he needs to be willing to take a shot to give off 3 or 4 of his own.

Now let’s take a look at Henderson’s keys to victory. Henderson did a lot of things right in the first bout and he’s probably going to want to keep up with many of those things. Let’s start with the body kicks from the first round. Like I wrote for Edgar, if he isn’t going to capitalize on catching the kicks, the judges will likely count it as effective aggression for Henderson, so he should be looking to throw those kicks until Edgar gives him a reason not to.  In the first bout Henderson only landed one takedown, I think he should be shooting more often in this bout. Edgar doesn’t throw a lot of knees, so it’s tough to think that Edgar is going to land a big knee as Henderson shoots, the only problem is tracking Edgar’s movement enough that you can corner him into a spot where you can actually land the takedown. In the first bout Henderson did everything right when Edgar took him to the ground. He grabbed hold of a submission or scrambled almost immediately back to his feet, that’s the perfect way to negate the wrestling of Edgar, Henderson will want to repeat that if he gets taken down in this bout. Finally one of Henderson’s biggest advantages will be his size and strength advantage. Henderson should look to engage in more clinches where he can overpower Edgar and control him.

Prediction time. Both men have ways to win this bout and the first bout was extremely close and I actually scored it 48-47 for Edgar. One thing that has always impressed me about Edgar was his ability to adapt for rematches and he always looks significantly better in rematches than he did in the first bout. I think that’s probably what’s going to happen in this bout. Still, anything less than Edgar’s best isn’t going to be enough and the bout is still going to be back and forth and will likely be an extremely close, high-octane bout. It’s definitely another strong contender for Fight of the Night. But I think Edgar makes the right adjustments and takes another close decision 48-47 across the board. Frankie Edgar via Unanimous Decision

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10 Main Events Worse Than UFC 147

June 20, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC 147 headliner featuring Wanderlei Silva vs. Rich Franklin 2 has been dubbed by many the worst main-event in UFC history. However, a look back tells us that there have been far less interesting fights sold as UFC main-events.

I am certainly not thrilled about the fight but at the same time I think it is absurd to call this the worst headliner in UFC history. I have watched UFC since the start and I can tell you that there have been far worse mismatches passed off as main-events by Zuffa. This got me to thinking and with a little refresher help from Wikipedia, I was able to easily come up with ten fights that were far worse main-events on paper than the UFC 147 headliner.

Now to be fair not all of these fights were sold on pay per view. Some of these fights were given away for free on Spike TV. Yet they still qualify as UFC main-events in my mind because they headlined a UFC numbered show. I did not include headliners from non-numbered UFC events. So with that said, here are ten fights off the top (in no particular order) of my head that are much worse than what the UFC is trying to sell this Saturday night.

UFC 122: Nate Marquardt vs. Yushin Okami - This was a joke! Yes it aired on free television but yet the idea that this was passed off as a legitimate headliner by the UFC was an insult. Dana White proclaimed the fight a championship eliminator which gave us yet another unfortunate main-event that would have made the list if I went with a top fifteen.

UFC 133: Ortiz vs. Rashad Evans - This band aid of a main-event came after numerous fight changes to the card. Injuries to Phil Davis and Jon Jones forced this rematch of a long forgotten draw between these two former champions. Ortiz was coming off his first win in six fights and five years while Evans was the recognized number one contender. As big of a mismatch as this was on paper, it was every bit as one-sided in the octagon.

UFC 130: Hamill vs. Jackson - If I was ranking this list in order this one would probably be at the top. Once again, this fight was a backup plan once Thiago Silva was injured going into his fight with Rampage Jackson. The original main-event Edgar vs. Maynard was also scrapped which pushed this one to the top. I know circumstances were beyond the UFC’s control but their hype machine was in full b.s. mode when it came to pushing this fight. This fight lived up to all expectations…it stunk!

UFC 105: Randy Couture vs. Brandon Vera - This won’t be the first time Couture makes the list. Once again the UFC offered up a free show from England and mucked it up with this ridiculous choice of main-event. The fight wasn’t actually that bad but just the idea that the UFC would sell anything with Brandon Vera in it as a main-event is beyond preposterous…wait a second!

UFC 112: Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia - By all rights Maia was due a title shot but I don’t think anyone thought for a second that this would be an entertaining fight. Silva went out of his way to make sure that didn’t happen to the point where Dana White refused to get into the octagon and wrap the belt around Silva following the win. UFC 112 had a pretty loaded show when it came to star power so even with a bogus main-event, fans had plenty of reasons to buy this show. The headliner though was not one of them.

UFC 119: Frank Mir vs. Mirko Cro Cop -
If I was ranking this list this fight would probably come in second (actually I am starting to rank the list). I find the outrage over UFC 147 hilarious considering the insult of a main-event that the UFC served up at UFC 119. Wanderlei and Franklin could put on a better fight in their sleep than Mir or Cro Cop could at this stage of their careers. Just remember before you nominate a fight to be the worst on selling headliner in UFC history that there was a little show called UFC 119 with an even bigger insult to your intelligence.

UFC 97: Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites - A win over Drew McFedries suddenly catapulted Leites to the number one contender’s spot and a title shot against Anderson Silva. Nobody with an MMA brain thought Leites had a chance to win and he proved us right. To his credit he lasted five rounds but that was more Silva playing games than anything else. To show you how “main-event” worthy Leites was to the UFC he was released following his next fight.

UFC 55: Andrei Arlovski vs. Paul Buentello - Yep, it happened. This fight came about after UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir was injured and the UFC needed to create a new champion. Buentello did rattle off some wins but selling him in the main-event was laughable. Buentello did his best to prove that after getting knocked out in a mere fifteen seconds by the Pit Bull.

UFC 53: Andrei Arlovski vs. Justin Eilers - This is still regarded as one of the most controversial fights in UFC history in regards to Eilers getting a title shot coming off a loss. See, you only thought that happened in Strikeforce! Arlovski literally beat the crap out of Eilers as Eilers left the fight with a broken nose, a torn ACL, and two broken hands and the UFC left UFC 53 with very little credibility when it came to the UFC heavyweight (or interim in this case) title.

UFC 109: Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman - The battle of “legends” took place at UFC 109. The idea behind this senior’s battle was that Coleman and Couture were scheduled to fight years earlier and someone had the misguided idea that UFC fans were still awaiting the cancelled fight. They were wrong. In all fairness the fight did draw 1.7 million viewers on Spike yet keep in mind that it was free and had a strong undercard or recognizable names.

Silva vs. Franklin 2 doesn’t sound so bad now does it?

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UFC 150: Henderson Vs. Edgar II Card Coming Together

May 17, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

A few months ago there was a thought that UFC 150 could become the gigantic event that UFC 100 was back in 2009. That will not be the case. However, the card is shaping up nicely with some intriguing fights and a main-event that can’t come soon enough for this writer.

Frankie Edgar will get his rematch with Benson Henderson for the UFC lightweight championship in the UFC 150 headliner August 11 in Denver. The rematch follows Henderson’s five-round destruction at UFC 144 which saw Henderson dominate a five-round fight that won him the championship. There was a lot of talk following the fight about whether Edgar would get a rematch or move down a weight class yet after a change of mind from the UFC head honcho, the UFC will be doing the right thing in my opinion by giving Edgar the immediate rematch.

As one-sided as Henderson’s dominance was in Japan I am probably more excited about this match coming up than any other after Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen 2. I don’t think Henderson is that much better and I do expect Edgar to bring a competitive fight to Denver. I think all of the talk about Edgar being too light for the class was ridiculous. I look forward to Edgar bringing a new strategy which should make for an absolutely electric atmosphere in Denver.

Jake Shields makes his UFC debut at middleweight in the semi-main event and will take on The Ultimate Fighter 3 alum Ed Herman. I really like this fight for Shields’ debut although I think pushing Ed Herman to the semi-main event is about as ridiculous as telling people Frankie Edgar is too small to be a lightweight after a 14-1-1 record in the division. This is a fight set up for Shields to win with the long range goal here of finding Anderson Silva (or Chael) a new face at challenger in a division marred with parity. Shields should do well at middleweight in the UFC. I’d expect him to showcase his best here after a lackluster win over Yoshihiro Akiyama back at UFC 144.

Yushin Okami takes on Luiz Cane and Dennis Hallman goes up against Thiago Tavares to round out the pay per view portion of UFC 150. Both fights have nice potential in my opinion to be fast and exciting. I really am intrigued with the Hallman-Tavares fight. I am not a big Hallman fan so the thought of Tavares finishing him is something appealing to me.

UFC 144 with Edgar vs. Henderson on top did a nice buyrate of 375,000 buys. That is an impressive number after several disappointing buys with Frankie Edgar on top. I am inclined to think that a great deal of that 375,000 would be interested in a rematch. Unfortunately for the UFC the reality here is that this is a one-match card built on a guy that has a poor history of drawing buys. Did UFC 144 establish that MMA fans are starting to see Frankie Edgar as a draw? We will certainly find out on August 11.

UFC 144: Henderson vs. Edgar II confirmed fights and card…
Ben Henderson (16-2) vs. Frankie Edgar (14-2-1)
Ed Herman (20-7) vs. Jake Shields (27-6-1)
Dennis Hallman (51-14-2, 1 NC) vs. Thiago Tavares (17-4-1)
Luiz Cane (12-4, 1 NC) vs. Yushin Okami (26-7)

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UFC 144: Edgar Vs. Henderson Predictions & Analysis

February 23, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The Ultimate Fighting Championship makes it’s somewhat long-awaited return to the Land of the Rising Sun, this weekend when they hold their first card in Japan since UFC 29 all the way back in the year 2000. They are returning to the former hotspot of PRIDE Fighting Championships, the massive Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The main Pay Per View card of the event has been amped up to four hours of run time and has added an additional two bouts.

Featuring a main event for the UFC’s Lightweight Championship between challenger Benson Henderson and champion Frankie Edgar, the UFC is offering a very solid card this weekend. Also the card features nearly every Japanese fighter employed by the UFC, so it offers a lot for the hometown crowd as well as a number of intriguing bouts for those of us who will be watching the card from the comfort of our own living room.

In addition to a potential barn-burner in the Main Event, this card offers a lot of intriguing bouts throughout the entire main card. The heavyweight bout between Mark Hunt and Cheick Kongo could turn into a complete slug-fest. The lightweight contest between Anthony Pettis and Joe Lauzon could feature all kinds of crazy high-octane action and that bout has some definite title implications at 155-pounds. A potential number one contender bout in the Featherweight division will take place when world-ranked Hatsu Hioki takes on Bart Palaszewski. Bouts featuring Quinton Jackson, Ryan Bader, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Jake Shields, Yushin Okami and Tim Boetsch round out the main PPV card. Let’s get right into the action.

Preliminary Card Bout (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Zhang Tiequan vs. Issei Tamura

Zhang “The Mongolian Wolf” Tiequan (anglicized Tiequan Zhang) is a Chinese-born fighter and is the first fighter from China to fight for the UFC. He is a member of the Black Tiger Team from China, as well as a notable member of China Top Team. Zhang is a BJJ, Sanshou and Shuai Jiao (Chinese Wrestling) based fighter. He is a brown belt in BJJ and excels when the fight hits the mat. Zhang is one of the better grapplers in the Featherweight division who has good takedowns with decent kick-boxing skills. Zhang started his career by going 14-0, stopping all of his opponents. Zhang has a career record of 15-2 and has never been finished in a fight.

Issei Tamura is a Japanese born fighter, who fights out of the Krazy Bee Dojo in Tokyo, Japan. He is actually taking this bout as a late-replacement for the injured Leonard Garcia. Tamura is a wrestling based fighter who has spent the majority of his career under the Japanese Shooto promotion’s banner. Tamura is relatively new to MMA, making his pro debut in June 2008. Tamura is fairly undersized as a Featherweight fighter, who cuts relatively little weight to make 145 pounds, and stands only 5’5” so he may be fairly undersized in this bout. However, he remains a strong wrestler who is able to takedown and control his opponents as the base of his offense.

Analysis and Prediction: There is a lot to say about Octagon jitters, as they have been the downfall of many fighters in the past. Also account for the fact that Tamura is a late replacement and is somewhat undersized for the division, there is a lot going against him in this bout. In Zhang’s previous fights he has hunted submissions relentlessly, sometimes at the expense of winning the bout. This proved to be his downfall in his last bout against Darren Elkins, where he was taken down because of his willingness to go after Guillotine Chokes which never really came close to stopping the bout. Tamura isn’t the greatest of fighters, but he has the tools to beat Zhang here, unless Zhang has worked considerably on his game planning and cardio, he’s going to struggle against someone who is perfectly willing to grind away at him from top control. Issei Tamura via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card Bout (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Takeya Mizugaki vs. Chris Cariaso

Takeya Mizugaki is a 28-year-old fighter from Ibaragi, Japan. Mizugaki formerly fought for the Shooto promotion in his native Japan, before being brought in as supposed cannon-fodder for then WEC Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres. Mizugaki ended up going five rounds, in a highly entertaining slugfest that earned him some serious job security. Mizugaki is a striker first, with developing ground skills, but he definitely prefers to keep his fights in the pocket. He is a member of the Shooting Gym Hakkei gym in Kanagawa, Japan. Mizugaki has done well in both the WEC and UFC, falling only to the elite of the division (Urijah Faber, Brian Bowles, Scott Jorgensen, Miguel Torres) but has defeated all other comers. Mizugaki owns a professional record of 15-6-2.

Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso is a 30-year-old fighter from San Fransisco, California. Cariaso has fought for a number of large MMA promotions including Strikeforce and Elite XC before signing with the WEC. Cariaso is a striker with solid kick-boxing skills who like his opponent has fared well but has fallen against the higher-level fighters in the Bantamweight division. Cariaso also adds competent grappling skills to his strong kick-boxing background, which makes him a tough match up for nearly anyone in the division. He owns a professional MMA record of 12-3.

Analysis and Prediction: Both of these guys are strong strikers with competent ground skills. Both men would also much prefer to stand in the pocket and trade with their opponents rather than work the fight to the mat. The similarities do not end there, as they both have fared well against mid-level competition but have struggled against the upper class of Bantamweights. The biggest thing here may be that Mizugaki will enjoy a four-inch height and reach advantage, which could be the downfall of a striker like Cariaso. This one is likely going to feature three rounds of back and forth kick-boxing, but don’t be surprised if it degenerates into a brawl at times. One of a number of potential Fight of the Night contenders here, but the Japanese fighter takes it on home soil. Takeya Mizugaki via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card Bout (FX): Middleweight Bout: Riki Fukuda vs. Steven Cantwell

Riki “Killer Bee” Fukuda is a 31-year-old fighter from Tokyo, Japan. Fukuda is a boxing and Shooto based fighter, who was an All Japan University Wrestling Champion. He has fought for a number of notable MMA promotions including DEEP, Dream, Elite XC, Shooto and K-1. Fukuda is a member of the Grabaka Gym and is a very grinding fighter. Fukuda is very tough and durable who is constantly moving forward. He throws solid one-two combinations as a way to close the distance against his opponents before shooting for takedowns. From top control he is very effective at grinding away at his opponents with constant ground and pound. One thing that may be concerning for Fukuda is that he has been out of the cage for over twelve months due to injury. Fukuda owns a career record of 17-5.

Steven “The Robot” Cantwell is a 25-year-old fighter from Long Beach, California. He is a former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion who now trains out of the One Kick’s Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cantwell has had a bizarre history with the UFC, pulling out of a number of fights due to undisclosed injuries, one of which Dana White said “May cause him to never fight again.” When he is fighting Cantwell is a strong grappler with mediocre striking skills. He does however own a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but outside of a few fights, hasn’t really been able to translate those skills effectively to the cage. Cantwell has a career record of 7-5, but hasn’t won a bout since 2009 and is likely fighting for his employment in this bout.

Analysis and Prediction: Fukuda is being thrown a soft-ball here from the UFC in my opinion. He is coming off of a long layoff and is getting an opponent tailor-made for him to beat. Cantwell is a fairly sloppy striker and although Fukuda isn’t the second coming of Muhammed Ali, he’ll likely hold the edge striking. On the ground Cantwell had nothing to offer Mike Massenzio who is a pretty comparable grappler to Fukuda, so it’s unlikely that Cantwell can do much to stop Fukuda from taking him down. He’s too tough to be finished, but he’s likely going to drop a clear cut decision to the Japanese fighter. Riki Fukuda via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card Bout (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Vaughan Lee

Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto is a 34-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. A few years ago Yamamoto was one of the most feared fighters in the lighter weight-classes in the world. His stellar wrestling background as well as strong striking and knockout power that is abnormal for a man so small, made him a nightmare for many opponents. Since coming over to the UFC, he has not fared as well, dropping back to back decisions and is 1-4, in his last five bouts. Fighting out of his own Krazy Bee Gym in Tokyo, Japan he’ll be looking to get back on track in this bout. Despite his recent struggles, his approach to fighting remains the same. Strong wrestling that he uses to keep the bout standing, while hunting for the huge right hand that can end anyone’s night. Despite his recent struggles Yamamoto owns a professional record of 18-5.

Vaughan Lee is an English fighter from Birmingham, England. He is a member of the Ultimate Training Centre in Birmingham, England. Lee is a fairly well-rounded fighter. During his fight against Chris Cariaso, Lee was able to dominate Cariaso on the ground for the first round. He has also shown fairly strong kick-boxing skills in previous fights. However, in his bout against Cariaso, once he was taken down, he showed very little ability to do anything from his back. Lee also has significant power in his strikes as well, as he holds a number of first round stoppage victories on his resume. Still he remains a fairly hot and cold fighter, with a professional record of 11-7-1.

Analysis and Prediction: This is a fight that’s likely going to take place on the feet. I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in either fighter, but I think Yamamoto holds enough advantages here to win the bout. His wrestling hasn’t looked great in recent bouts, but he was once a contender to join the Olympic Wrestling team for Japan, so it’s unlikely that Lee will be able to work the bout to the mat easily. In a striking battle, Yamamoto struggles at times against fighters who are faster than him, which I don’t actually think Lee is. Throw in the home crowd advantage and it’s likely that “Kid” will land a huge right hand at some point that ends the Brit’s night. Norifumi Yamamoto via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card Bout (FX): Lightweight Bout: Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka

Takanori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi is a 33-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. Formerly the face of the lighter weight-classes in PRIDE, he is the former PRIDE Lightweight Champion. During his peak he was the Lightweight version of Chuck Liddell. A striker with big power who threw massive looping punches that hit with a ton of power, while using his strong wrestling skills defensively to avoid being taken down to the mat. Things have been tough for Gomi since 2008, as his skill set has since deteriorated. His wrestling skills have not gotten any better and his striking has slowed with age. He is no longer the feared striker he once was, as in his last bout he was outclassed in the striking department by Nate Diaz. Outside of an impressive one-punch KO of Tyson Griffin in 2010, Gomi hasn’t looked like his former self in a number of years. Still, his one-punch KO power has to be respected and he is still one of the most recognizable Japanese fighters in the history of the sport. Gomi holds a professional MMA record of 32-8 with 1 No Contest.

Eiji Mitsuoka is a 36-year-old fighter from Saitama, Japan. He is accepting this bout on late notice as an injury replacement for George Sotiropoulos. Despite his relative unknown status in North America, he has fought for a number of major Asian MMA promotions including Dream, DEEP, World Victory Road and PRIDE. Mitsuoka is an extremely talented grappler with limited striking skills to complement. However, he recently took a year long sabbatical from competition where he trained exclusively in striking skills, so who knows what kind of impact that might have. Mitsuoka is a member of the Wajyutsu Keisyukai RJW Fight Team. Mitsuoka holds a professional MMA record of 18-7-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Despite the fact that he holds little name value, Mitsuoka is a dangerous opponent and is one that Gomi cannot overlook. Striking, Gomi holds a distinct advantage, as he throws significantly better combinations and hits harder than Mitsuoka, even with his deteriorating speed. However, Gomi has always been prone to gassing out and being out-classed in the grappling department. Mitsuoka is extremely tough and durable, having never been stopped due to strikes in his career. If Gomi hasn’t improved his cardio issues, it is entirely possible that he pummels Mitsuoka for two rounds, before getting taken down and submitted in the third. It’s actually the outcome that I’m predicting. Eiji Mitsuoka via Submission in Round Three

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon

Anthony “Showtime” Pettis is a 25-year-old fighter from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a member of the Roufusport Fight Team based out of his hometown, where he trains regularly with fighters like Alan Belcher, Pat Barry and Ben Askren under legendary kick-boxer Duke Roufus. Pettis is a very well-rounded fighter with backgrounds in Muay Thai, Tae Kwan Do and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Pettis was the final WEC Lightweight Champion and actually defeated headliner Ben Henderson at the WEC’s final show to win that title. Pettis has very flashy and quick striking skills, perhaps being most notable for “the Showtime Kick” where he scaled the cage wall, before delivering a head kick to Ben Henderson in their bout. On the ground Pettis has an active guard and is very active from both the bottom as well as top control, constantly searching for sweeps and submission attempts. Pettis holds a career MMA record of 14-2.

Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon is a 27-year-old fighter from Brockton, Massachusetts. He trains at his own home gym Lauzon MMA in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Like his opponent Lauzon is a very well-rounded fighter. He is a competent striker who can put together combinations well, as well having a very impressive and aggressive grappling skill set. Lauzon is a former cast-member of The Ultimate Fighter, where he was defeated in the semi-finals by Manny Gamburyan. Lauzon is coming off one of the biggest wins of his career at UFC 136 when he stunned Melvin Guillard with a big punch, before latching onto his back and submitting him via Rear Naked Choke. Lauzon has a professional record of 21-6, including 17 wins by way of submission.

Analysis and Prediction: This is an extremely intriguing bout and is a serious contender for Fight of the Night. Pettis is one of the flashiest strikers in the Lightweight division, but in his last bout showed that he could follow a game plan if needed by outwrestling and grappling Jeremy Stephens. Pettis was controlled by Clay Guida, but Lauzon doesn’t have the wrestling chops to control Pettis on the mat like that. Most likely this bout takes place wherever Pettis wants it to, which means it will likely turn into a striking battle. Lauzon is decent, but he’s shown a tendency to gas out in the later rounds and he won’t be able to keep pace with “Showtime.” Pettis will wear him down with leg kicks and body punches before finally stopping the bout in the third round. Anthony Pettis via TKO in Round Three

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Featherweight Bout: Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski

Hatsu “Iron Broom” Hioki is a 28-year-old Japanese fighter. He is a member of the ALIVE Shooto & Jiu Jitsu Academy in his hometown of Tokyo, Japan but also trains at the famed Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada alongside Georges St. Pierre. Hioki has fought for a number of notable organizations including TKO, Shooto (where he was the Lightweight Champion) and World Victory Road. Hioki is a competent striker, who can put together stellar combinations and has a very strong chin, but his bread and butter is his grappling game. Hioki is a black belt in BJJ and the majority of his wins have come via Submission. From top control Hioki is absolutely relentless, constantly pressing to pass guard and throw ground and pound as well as search out submission opportunities. Hioki’s professional MMA record is 25-4-2.

Bart “Bartimus” Palaszewski is a Polish born fighter that resides and trains in Illinois. He is a member of Jeff Curran’s Team Curran gym in Wonder Lake, Illinois. Palaszewski despite not yet being 30 years old is a veteran of the fight game with 50 career professional bouts. Despite his training with Jeff Curran and his black belt level in BJJ, striking is where Palaszewski is most confident. He throws solid combinations with big power. He recently made the drop to Featherweight and had impressive results as he flattened Tyson Griffin at UFC 137 with a huge left hook that knocked Griffin out cold. Palaszewski owns a career record of 36-14.

Analysis and Prediction: I’ll admit a couple things right away here, 1) I bet pretty big on Hioki against George Roop. 2) It was a less than impressive victory for someone who is touted as the number two Featherweight fighter in the world, 3) I actually had it scored 29-28 in favor of Hioki. With that out of the way, we move on to this bout. Hioki struggled against Roop’s lengthy frame, but striking has never been his strong suit, he is often willing to oblige opponents in that realm, but he prefers the ground. Against Palaszewski he faces a BJJ black belt, that should be significantly better on the ground than he actually is. This one will certainly come down to Hioki’s ability to get the fight to the mat. Palaszewski hits hard and hits often, so this fight could end at any time, but in front of a home crowd and with octagon jitters out of the way, I think Hioki finds a way to drag Palaszewski down to the ground and runs game on him from there, eventually earning a late stoppage. Hatsu Hioki via Submission in Round Two

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch

Yushin “Thunder” Okami is a 30-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. He is a Judo based fighter, with a black belt in that discipline. Okami also has very strong wrestling skills which he has continued to improve since beginning to train in the USA with Chael Sonnen at Team Quest. In addition to his strong wrestling and Judo skills, Okami is one of the larger fighters in the Middleweight division and is extremely strong which aids him in controlling his opponents on the ground. Okami has decent technical boxing, backed mostly by a solid jab and basic one-two combinations, but he uses his strikes simply to close the distance and get into a clinch with opponents. From there it’s a Judo throw, or a double leg takedown away from hitting the mat, where Okami can grind away on his opponents with ground and pound from the top. Okami holds a professional MMA record of 26-6.

Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch is a 31-year-old fighter from Lincolnville, Maine. Like his opponent he is a Judo and Wrestling based fighter. After struggling as a Light Heavyweight fighter an improved diet and drop to Middleweight has rejuvenated him as a fighter. Boetsch often struggled to control his opponents at 205 pounds, but now is better able to impose his wrestling skills against Middleweight fighters. Boetsch has proven very competent in the clinch in his UFC career, showing good dirty boxing skills, with nasty uppercuts, as well as a strong ability to earn takedowns using his Judo skills. Boetsch holds a career record of 14-4.

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Analysis and Prediction: Boetsch has found new life at Middleweight. As a Light Heavyweight, he faced some of the biggest, toughest wrestlers in the division and was completely man-handled by most of them. However, at Middleweight he hasn’t had that problem. Against Okami, he may be back in problematic territory. Okami is one of the biggest, strongest fighters in the Middleweight division. Okami probably has the better stand up. The only area I really think Boetsch has an advantage is in the clinch with his dirty boxing, but it’s unlikely Okami let’s him hang out there for very long before he takes him down. On the ground Okami is one of the best grinders out there, constantly pounding away at his opponents. Boetsch has big power, so if Okami gets baited into a firefight it’s possible he could be in trouble. But Okami has never shown himself to be reckless, he’s a controlled fighter, who usually follows the game plan and even though Boetsch knows what it is, he doesn’t have the track record to stop it. Yushin Okami via Unanimous Decision

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Welterweight Bout: Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields

Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama is a 36-year-old fighter from Osaka, Japan. He is a 3rd degree black belt in Judo and also holds strong boxing skills. He currently splits training time between Team Cloud in Japan and Jackson’s Submission Fighting in New Mexico. Akiyama is making his Welterweight debut in this fight, so it may be interesting to see how the weight cut affects him, as he has never really been known for having strong cardio. Still, he was a small Middleweight fighter and fans have been calling for him to shed the weight for a while now, so it’s unlikely to have a massive impact on him come fight night. Akiyama’s biggest issues have always been his cardio and is inability to game plan, often resorting to brawling against fighters and ignoring his obvious ground advantages. Still, because of his amazing chin and ability to withstand punishment he’s mostly gotten away with it (save for his last bout against Vitor Belfort where he got annihilated striking and KO’ed for the trouble.) Akiyama holds a professional MMA record of 13-4-2.

Jake Shields is a 33-year-old fighter from California who is a member of the famed Cesar Gracie Fight Team where he trains regularly with Gilbert Melendez and the Diaz brothers. Shields has fought for and held titles in a number of notable MMA promotions including Elite XC, Shooto and Strikeforce. He is a black belt in BJJ as well as a former NCAA Division 2 Wrestler at San Fransisco State University. Shields is best served when using his wrestling to get the fight to the mat and then working his high level Jiu Jitsu skills against his opponents. His stand up is fairly rudimentary, although he can absorb a lot of punishment, which usually keeps him out of trouble, in fact Jake Ellenberger was recently the first person to finish Shields via strikes in more than 10 years of pro completion (and that was a week after Shields’ father and manager had passed away, so it’s hard to ignore the psychological effects that likely had on Shields.) Despite his recent setbacks, he remains one of the best Welterweight fighters on the planet and is probably the top one or two grapplers in the UFC’s Welterweight division. Shields owns a professional MMA record of 26-6-1.

Analysis and Prediction: This bout has some serious contrast in styles. Neither fighter has great striking, but of the two, Akiyama’s is definitely better. If Akiyama could stay disciplined when striking, he would hold a significant edge, but his tendency to throw wild punches often ends up hurting him. On the ground Shields is an absolute beast, his blend of NCAA level wrestling and BJJ skills, combined with great athleticism and strength makes him tough for anyone to handle on the mat. His striking is surprisingly bad for someone who’s been in the fight game for as long as he has, but it’s rarely been a problem for him in the past. On the ground Akiyama is no slouch, but he is not a dynamo from his back. His grappling game is mainly focused on being effective from top control. On the bottom against a fighter like Shields, he’s going to be focused on covering up and playing defense, the perfect chance for Shields to capitalize on a small mistake and latch onto a submission. Akiyama has also always had problems with his cardio and after cutting weight to drop a weight-class, I doubt it’s going to improve in this fight. Shields on the other hand has fought in numerous championship bouts and has looked solid over all five rounds, so we know he won’t slow down. If Akiyama gets tired in round three, expect him to get taken down, pounded on and Rear Naked Choked for his troubles when he turtles up. Jake Shields via Submission in Round Three

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo

Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt owns one of the strangest resumes in all of MMA completion. A former Super Heavyweight fighter who used to weigh in at well over 300 pounds, but has since made the permanent cut to 265 pounds to make the UFC’s heavyweight limit, Hunt is one of the most powerful strikers in all of MMA. Hunt holds career victories over Wanderlei Silva, Ben Rothwell and Mirko Cro Cop, but has losses to other fighters like Sean McCorkle and Melvin Manhoef. As a former professional K-1 Kickboxer that is where Hunt’s skills lie. The New Zealand born fighter is now a world traveler, training at a number of notable MMA Gyms in his quest to improve his all-around MMA game, his most recent stop was at American Top Team. Hunt holds a professional MMA record of 7-7.

Cheick Kongo is a French born Heavyweight fighter from Paris, France. Kongo trains at the Wolfslair MMA Academy in Paris. The 36-year-old stands 6’4” and with an 82 inch reach regularly holds reach advantages over his opponents. Kongo is a kick-boxer first and foremost with backgrounds in Muay Thai, Savate and traditional kick-boxing. Recently he has shown a more dynamic MMA game, with an ability to game plan, by utilizing wrestling and top control against his opponents. Kongo is very successful in the clinch, where he can use knees to the body to wear out his opponents, before searching for a takedown. Although his ground game is fairly basic, he still excels at sitting in guard and posturing up to use his size to deliver ground and pound to his opponents. Kongo holds a professional MMA record of 17-6-2.

Analysis and Prediction: This one is definitely one of the more intriguing bouts on the card, that could go a couple of ways. It also feels as though it’s a bit of a throwback to the sideshow fights that Pride used to put on. Kongo is a kick-boxer, but he doesn’t have the most solid of chins. In his bout against Pat Barry he tried to strike which earned him a ticket to queer street and if it wasn’t for Barry’s poor decision-making he probably could have won that fight. Instead Kongo made the epic comeback. Against a powerful striker like Hunt, it’s hard to think that Kongo will be making any kind of comeback if he takes anything more than a jab directly to the chin. Hunt is fairly one-dimensional, but he has been improving in other areas. However, Kongo has also improved considerably recently. In his most recent bout against Matt Mitrione he used a plethora of leg kicks and a newfound wrestling skill set to dominate Mitrione for three rounds. If he employs a similar approach against Hunt, he should be able to outwrestle the samoan for three rounds, but if he chooses to stand and trade, it becomes a dicey situation for the Frenchman. Overall, Kongo has shown himself to be getting smarter, so I think he plays this one safe and earns a clear unanimous decision, but if he decides to trade, it could be upset city for Mark Hunt. Cheick Kongo via Unanimous Decision

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Quinton Jackson vs. Ryan Bader

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is a 33-year-old fighter from Memphis, Tennessee, but he will be returning to his second home for this bout. Jackson is a former standout from the Pride Fighting Championship days and is loved by Japanese fight fans. He’s already stated that he’s looking forward to putting on a show for the locals. Jackson is a strong striker and a decent wrestler, however, he prefers to use his wrestling mostly for defense, preferring to stand and trade with his opponents. Jackson is probably one of the most straight-forward fighters in the UFC. He comes to bang. Jackson constantly uses his footwork to shuffle around, searching for the opportunity to throw a counter right hand, or a big overhand hook, all of which have the potential to end any fighter’s night. Jackson owns a professional MMA record of 32-9.

Ryan “Darth” Bader is a 28-year-old fighter from Reno, Nevada. Bader is best known as the winner of the eighth season of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter. Bader was a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler, winning three Pac-10 Championships during his time at Arizona State University. Bader is a member of the Power MMA Team and a former member of Arizona Combat Sports Fight Team. He prefers to use his wrestling in his fights, using takedowns and top control to earn points on judge’s scorecards, while using ground and pound to wear out his opponents. Since his time on the reality show, Bader has continually improved his striking skills and is now a fairly competent boxer. Still, his boxing skills are fairly basic, throwing simple combinations and sometimes winging big power punches. Despite his skills being somewhat rudimentary, no one can knock his ability to throw with power as he has earned several recent KO victories. Bader’s career record is 13-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Many people seem to think that Bader has a decent chance at pulling off the upset in this one. The easiest thing to point to is following the game plans that Jon Jones and Rashad Evan have both used successfully against Rampage. Leg kicks, fighting at range and then dragging him to the mat at every opportunity. Rampage’s weakness has always been that he’s too straight-forward. He doesn’t check leg kicks… ever, it’s a serious problem for someone so high on the Light Heavyweight food chain. His other problem coming into this bout is his love for the Japanese fans. At a recent press conference he admitted that he fought stupidly in his Pride days, not fighting intelligently and instead fighting for fan reaction instead of winning, and even worse than that, he’s promising to do it again!

Bader has the tools to win this fight, but it won’t be easy. Rampage has some of the greatest takedown defense in the division and is extremely durable. His loss to Jon Jones was pretty lopsided, but he has lasted the longest of any of Jones’ victims in the UFC so far, so that has to say something. Also, you can never count out the power in Jackson’s counter-punches. The perfect game plan for Bader is to stay outside, work the leg kicks intelligently and use a solid jab to set up his takedown when closing the distance. From the bottom, Jackson has very little to offer other than covering up and trying to scramble, so if Bader is patient he should be able to control the bout on the mat for the majority of the time that it stays there.

All of this of course is easier said than done. Rampage is one of the biggest punchers in the division and is probably the most well-rounded striker that Bader has ever faced. Jackson is an expert at using his footwork to avoid getting trapped in the cage and his massive frame and brute strength make him a nightmare to try and work to the ground. His counter-punching style is extremely effective and if he says he’s willing to let the fists fly in the cage, it could be lights out early for Bader, who’s chin was somewhat exposed by Tito Ortiz. Even if Bader tries to replicate the game plan that Evans used, it’s worthy to note that Rampage won the third round of that fight and after shrugging off a takedown attempt landed some huge uppercuts that nearly knocked Rashad out cold. If the same thing happens to Bader, history has proven that he might not be able to last like Rashad did. Quinton Jackson via TKO in Round Two

Main-Event Bout (Pay Per View): Lightweight Championship Bout: Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson

Benson “Smooth” Henderson is a 28-year-old fighter from Colorado Springs. Henderson is probably best known as a former WEC Lightweight Champion. Henderson is an extremely aggressive fighter, constantly pressing forward against his opponents. Henderson is a member of the MMA Lab Fighting Team in Glendale, Arizona. He has a background in a number of different martial arts disciplines, including a black belt in Tae Kwan Do, a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and was a former NAIA All-American Wrestler when he was in college. Henderson is a decent boxer, but he lacks the high-level technical aspects such as strong footwork and tight defense to make him a truly strong striker. Instead he relies more on pressure and getting in close. In clinches there are so many things that Henderson can do including punches, knees, elbows, takedowns and submission attempts, it’s hard to defend against, because opponents never know exactly what’s coming. On the mat is where Henderson truly excels as he uses his strong wrestling base to earn takedowns and is very dangerous from top control, constantly forcing opponents to work to avoid submissions and ground and pound. Henderson owns a career MMA record of 15-2.

Frankie “The Answer” Edgar is the reigning and defending UFC Lightweight Champion. Edgar is a 30-year-old fighter from Toms River, New Jersey. Edgar is a member of the Renzo Gracie Combat Team based out of New Jersey. There Edgar is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Ricardo Almeida and also trains his boxing under Mark Henry and his Muay Thai skills under the tutelage of Phil Nurse. Before joining the UFC Edgar was an NCAA Division 1 Wrestler at Rutgers University. Edgar is the best boxer in the UFC’s Lightweight Division, using strong footwork, hand speed and incredible timing to overwhelm his opponents in exchanges. Edgar also uses angles well, constantly moving around, which makes him difficult to wrestle against as he is never straight ahead for wrestlers to shoot for takedowns or force him into clinches against the fence. Edgar owns a professional MMA record of 14-1-1.

Analysis and Prediction: This one definitely has the potential to be five rounds of intense, high-paced, back and forth action. The fighting styles of both men definitely lends itself to this one going all five rounds. Edgar is one of the most difficult fighters in the UFC to finish, as he’s escaped more submissions than anyone else and has never been knocked out in his entire career. Edgar on the other hand has shown how hard he is to finish, mainly throughout his trilogy of fights against Gray Maynard, where he was rocked in nearly every fight, before storming back to win the remaining rounds in those bouts.

Henderson has said in media interviews that he plans to use his size and cut off the cage against Edgar, to try to trap him against the walls. However, that might be easier said than done for him, as Edgar’s footwork is extremely impressive and will not be easy to control in the cage. Edgar will almost certainly have the speed advantage on the feet, so it’ll be tough for Henderson to try and trap Edgar without taking a number of punches for his trouble. The other problem is that Edgar is an excellent wrestler himself and his ability to sprawl and brawl is extremely impressive, it definitely will not be smooth sailing for Henderson in this realm.

Henderson has been impressive in his last few fights, but it’s important to note that Edgar will be the best striker that he has faced in a long time. And the last time he faced a striker of this calibre, he lost to the “Showtime Kick” to Henderson, in the WEC’s final show. Edgar will certainly want to keep this bout standing, as he has a decided advantage there. Trained under Ricardo Almeida in Jiu Jitsu, the champion is certainly no slouch on the ground, but it’s that area where his opponent excels. Henderson can really push the pace if this fight hits the mat, his ability to create scrambles and pressure opponents during those scrambles, is what makes him very dangerous and it was one of the tools he used to defeat both Clay Guida and Jim Miller.

This fight is going to come down to who can impose their game plan on the other man. Both fighters have strong, solid cardio and can fight for all five rounds, and both have done it several times before in their careers. Both fighters are also able to push the pace on their opponents, so it will be interesting to see which fighter begins to slow down first. For Henderson, although it’s something that’s been missing a bit from his game lately, he should be looking to throw a high volume of leg kicks. As Carlos Condit showed against Nick Diaz, nothing slows down a strong boxer more than leg kicks. Edgar is very quick and agile on his feet, but if Henderson can land some big leg kicks to slow the champion down, he’ll have more success trying to stalk him down throughout the fight.

For Edgar, I imagine he’ll fight at a range. He is an expert at closing the distance quickly and darting in and out before taking a lot of return fire. His superior footwork, combined with Henderson’s at times sloppy striking defense, should allow Edgar ample opportunities to get combinations off. Once he hits Henderson it will be just as important that he gets away quickly, Henderson will likely be the larger and stronger fighter in the cage, so Edgar will want to avoid spending any extended time in clinches with Henderson, where the challenger can begin to control the pacing and placement of the bout. Overall, I think Edgar is highly criticized as a UFC champion, but he definitely should not be. Solid wins over Maynard, BJ Penn (twice) and Sean Sherk are nothing to laugh at. At the end of the day, I think his boxing will be too much and he’ll be too quick on the feet for Henderson to slow down and control. I’ll take Edgar by a close, but ultimately clear and unanimous decision. Frankie Edgar via Unanimous Decision

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UFC 134 Silva vs. Okami Results – Anderson Dominates, Shogun & Minotauro Get KO’s

August 27, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Pride Fighting Championship lives again as three former Pride FC stars highlighted the UFC RIO card. Three former Pride fighters returned to their home country and electrified a sold out UFC 134 crowd in Rio, yet it was The Spider that stole the show.

Anderson Silva showed the world once again why he is the greatest fighter in all of MMA. After toying with Yushin Okami for one round, The Spider came alive and unleashed an assault of strikes on the challenger to finish the fight and win his 9th straight UFC championship defense at UFC RIO.

The first round was fairly uneventful until the final seconds. Most of the round saw Anderson dance around, look for the jab, but not connect on anything to deadly. They fought up against the cage for awhile with Anderson nailing a knee to Okami’s side that seemed to bother him. Okami went for a takedown which was blocked by the champion. The champion closed real strong nailing a head kick as the buzzer sounded at 2:04 of the second round.

The second round was much different. Silva came out on fire and much more confident than he did in the previous round. Silva started baiting him like he did with Forrest, dropping his hands, and then countering Okami hard with rights. Silva put Okami down hard with what looked like a simple punch. He did it again but this time Silva swarmed in with punches, knees, and elbows and the fight was called at2:04 of the second round for the champion.

Anderson Silva set a new record tonight with 14 consecutive wins in the UFC and goes 15-0 overall in his last fifteen, and 29-4 in his career. Let that set in for a second and tell me if that 15-0 number is not just an unbelievable number or what? Will someone beat it? Maybe, but I can’t imagine more than one person hitting 14-0 in the UFC with the level of competition in today’s MMA climate and beyond.

I don’t know if I would call this Silva at his best because he looked incredibly disinterested in the first round. On the other hand, he showed why he is without a doubt the greatest fighter in all of MMA in the second round with a brilliant performance. You can’t deny the record but at some point, someone is going to Silva hard when he drops those hands. It wasn’t Okami and Silva gets the win at home in the UFC 134 main-event.

Mauricio Shogun Rua came back and came back strong at UFC 134 with a big win over Forrest Griffin. The battle of former UFC light heavyweight champions didn’t last long. Shogun looked relaxed early on while Forrest looked a bit tight. Shogun was looking to pounce similar to what he did against Lyoto Machida. He finally got the open at 1:53 and a few hammer fists later knocked out Forrest Griffin and avenged his previous loss.

The win gives Shogun his eighth win in his last ten fights. Shogun desperately needed a win here after being embarrassed in his last fight against Jon Jones. I think Rua needs at least two more wins to get back to Jones. I think another fight with Lyoto Machida could work, as well as a fight against Tito Ortiz or Rich Franklin.

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For Griffin, it his third loss in his last five fights. I am sorry but the aura of Griffin is over for me. He really needs to evolve his game as the more experienced fighters are catching up to him. He’ll always be one of those guys that hangs around the top of the light heavyweight mix on his name alone. At the same time I’d be shocked if Griffin ever received another light heavyweight title shot again.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira received a legend’s welcome from the Brazilian faithful in Rio. The crowd got even louder after Big Nog knocked Brendan Schaub out in the first round. Minotauro started out slow and was on the receiving end for most of the first round against Brendan Schaub. Nog kept looking for the takedown while Schaub had other plans.

Minotauro looked like he was about one punch away from hitting the mat when he found success with a two punch combination. A left hand later and Schaub was out! The crowd lost it and it really was a great moment to watch Minotauro get the knockout in his first ever fight in Brazil.

Minotauro said after the fight that he had two surgeries and took the fight early because he wanted to fight in his home. It really was a great moment to see Minotauro get the knock out at home.

I wouldn’t get too excited about a Minotauro comeback. He looked old and slow and quite frankly, was pretty close to going down himself before connecting with the combination. I think someone with a little more experience than Schaub wouldn’t have left himself open and made those kinds of mistakes. Maybe a Minotauro vs. Roy Nelson fight perhaps?

Full UFC RIO/134 Fight Card Results…
Anderson Silva defeated Yushin Okami via TKO in Round 2
Mauricio Shogun Rua defeated Forrest Griffin via KO
Edson Barbosa defeated Ross Pearson via split decision
Minotauro Nogueira defeated Brendan Schaub via KO in Round 1
Stanislav Nedko defeated Luiz Cane via TKO – Round 1
Yves Jabouin defeated Ian Loveland via split decision
Erick Silva defeated Luis Ramos via TKO – Round 1
Raphael Assuncao defeated Johnny Eduardo via unanimous decision
Paulo Thiago defeated David Mitchell via unanimous decision
Rousimar Palhares defeated Dan Miller via unanimous decision
Thiago Tavares defeated Spencer Fisher via TKO

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UFC RIO Full Card Betting Analysis & Predictions

August 26, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

UFC Rio PredictionsOne of the biggest and best fight cards of the entire summer is set to hit the Pay Per View airwaves this Saturday night. The UFC makes its long awaited return to Brazil, as they present UFC 134 live from the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro.

Making their first trip to the birthplace of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for the first time since 1998’s Ultimate Brazil event, the card is stacked with a long list of Brazilian talent, most of them facing off against foreign competition, meaning that several fights will have a Brazil vs. the world feel. The event is capped off by Middleweight kingpin Anderson “The Spider” Silva searching for his fourteenth straight win inside the Octagon and his ninth title defense, when he takes on the Dana White anointed “greatest Japanese fighter of all time” Yushin “Thunder” Okami.

There are a number of intriguing bouts on this contest, both from a fan’s point-of-view as well as from a gambling perspective. As always, I’ll try to give you a glimpse inside the fights, provide a bit of insight and offer a prediction from a gambling perspective. Let’s not waste any more time, let’s get into the first fight of the night. As always, all betting lines are the best current market lines according to BestFightOdds (www.bestfightodds.com.)

Preliminary Card (Broadcast on Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Erick Silva (-270) vs. Luis Ramos (+245)

Two UFC newcomers from Brazil battle in the opening contest of the night as 12-1 Erick Silva takes on 19-6 Luis Ramos. Erick Silva is a highly touted Brazilian prospect and is the reigning Welterweight champion of Brazil’s Jungle Fight promotion. “Indio” Erick Silva is a 27-year-old with a Black belt in BJJ and Judo who has been fighting professionally since 2005. He is a member of the notable X-Gym where he is a partner of Anderson Silva and Ronaldo Souza. He has also spent time training with Team Nogueira in Brazil for his UFC debut. He has shown stellar stand-up skills, to compliment his well-rounded grappling acumen. He is entering the contest on an eight fight winning streak.

Luis Ramos is a 30-year-old fighter from Brazil, who owns a fair amount of experience on the Brazilian MMA circuit. Ramos is a member of the Nova Uniao Fight team, who also possesses a wealth of ground skills. “Beicao” is currently riding a three fight win-streak, last tasting defeat to former UFC Welterweight Roan Carneiro by Decision in October of 2010.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: The betting line currently favors Erick Silva by a fairly wide margin. Usually this is the kind of place where I would look to make a small play on the underdog, but I’m not going to in this one. Silva is a highly touted prospect and is the younger fighter. Despite lacking big fight experience, Silva looks to be the stronger stand-up fighter, and in a fight where two BJJ Black Belts will likely stalemate one another on the ground, this one is going to come down to striking and well-timed takedowns. That favors the younger, stronger Silva who likely will be the stronger fighter in the clinch and the better boxer when standing. However, at -270 Silva is being given a 73% chance of winning the fight and I think that’s in the right ballpark, so I’m not touching this one. But for predictions sake, Erick Silva by Unanimous Decision.

Preliminary Card (Broadcast on Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Yves Jabouin (+180) vs. Ian Loveland (-195)

This is actually the only fight on the entire card to not feature a Brazilian born fighter, as Canadian Jabouin takes on American Loveland. Yves “The Tiger” Jabouin is a former Featherweight fighter, who is making the drop to Bantamweight for the first time. Jabouin is mostly a striker who relies on big power to earn his victories, and has earned 11 of his 15 career victories by way of TKO or Knockout. The former WEC fighter was brought over during the UFC-WEC merger, but is still searching for his first UFC victory. At UFC 129 he was submitted by Pablo Garza via impressive Flying Triangle Choke. If Jabouin wants to win this fight, he’s going to need to keep Wineland away from him and avoid the constant takedowns.

Ian “The Barn Owl” Loveland is a 14-8 fighter representing the Oregon branch of Team Quest. The 27-year-old has an established background in Tae Kwan DO and wrestling. In his last fight he was defeated by Unanimous Decision to perennial Bantamweight contender Joseph Benavidez. Loveland uses his strong wrestling background in his fights often, usually shooting early and often for takedowns and then working ground and pound. His stand-up was exploited against Benavidez and against a strong striker like Jabouin, he’s going to want to get this fight to the ground as early as possible.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: This is basically a straightforward Striker vs. Wrestler fight. If there is one thing that history should have taught us in MMA, it’s that the wrestler often wins these battles and usually relatively easily. I see this one going basically the same way. Jabouin has good power and solid stand up, but he is making the cut to 135 for the first time and I don’t believe he has a very good body-type to try to cut that kind of weight. I expect that he has a decent first round, but in the final two rounds of the fight he will begin to gas and Loveland will take over. I expect to see a lot of takedowns and a lot of ground and pound en-route to a late stoppage victory for Loveland. At -195 Loveland needs to win this fight 66% of the time to make a bet profitable, I think he’s probably around the 70% region so I think there is a bit of value, so I will be making a small Half-Unit play. Ian Loveland via TKO in the third round.

Preliminary Card (Broadcast on Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Yuri Alcantara (-435) vs. Felipe Arantes (+380)

Two relatively unknown Brazilian fighters make their UFC debuts in this Featherweight contest. Yuri “Marajo” Alcantara is a former Lightweight fighter, who has been fighting professionally since 2004. Alcantara is also a veteran of Brazil’s Jungle Fight promotion, where he was the inaugural Lightweight Champion of the promotion. He is a member of the Pattaya/Striker Fight Team and holds a black belt in BJJ. He is also a strong striker with good Muay Thai skills and KO Power in both of his hands. He is currently riding an 11-fight winning streak, and has finished his last 6 opponents.

Felipe “Sertanejo” Arantes is a late-replacement opponent for Alcantara whose first two opponents were forced from the card with injury. Arantes is also a Brazilian fighter, fighting with the Macaco Gold Team in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The 23-year old fighter has a record of 13-3 with 10 stoppage victories (6 by KO or TKO and 4 via Submission.) Despite a fairly strong record, Arantes has struggled against stronger opposition and is taking this fight on short notice, against a destroyer like Alcantara, he is going to need to weather the early storm and pick his shots if he wants to win this fight.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: At -435 Alcantara is a huge favorite and that’s with good reason. He has been very active over the past few years and has had impressive results. His last fight he absolutely blitzed and destroyed Ricardo Lamas at WEC 53. I’m not interested in betting Alcantara at such long odds and I don’t think Arantes can pull off the upset so I’m not touching this one. But for prediction’s sake Yuri Alcantara via TKO in Round One.

Preliminary Card (Broadcast on Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Raphael Assuncao (-162) vs. Johnny Eduardo (+149)

Raphael Assuncao is a Brazilian fighter who now fights out of Atlanta, Georgia in the USA, but is originally from Recife, Brazil. The 29-year-old fighter is the younger brother of former UFC fighter Junior Assuncao. Like his brother he is a BJJ black belt, who also has improving Muay Thai skills. He holds a career MMA record of 14-4, with seven wins by way of Submission. Assuncao is searching for his first UFC victory, as he lost his first fight in the promotion to surging Featherweight Erik Koch. Assuncao is making the cut to 135-Pounds for the first time in his career for this fight. Assuncao has improving stand up skills, but he knows where his strengths lie and uses his striking to close the distance before searching for a way to get the fight to the ground.

Johnny Eduardo is a 33-year-old fighter from Brazil. He is making his UFC debut after an impressive career spanning 15 years, as he made his MMA debut in November of 1996. He is entering his debut fight on an 11-fight winning streak, stopping all but 2 of his opponents during that stretch. Eduardo is a strong striker with crisp boxing skills. He has strong footwork and has no problem exchanging punches in the pocket. Although he also holds a fair number of wins via Submission in his career, that was against lesser competition and he will be at a disadvantage grappling from the bottom against someone as skilled as Assuncao.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: Eduardo is a veteran fighter, but is still relatively unknown to most MMA fans, including myself. From what I have seen of him, he has good, solid technical striking skills, however, Assuncao will be a pretty significant step up in competition for him. If he keeps this fight standing, he should be able to out-point Assuncao, but if he gets on the bottom underneath Assuncao, it will certainly be a much tougher fight for him. Given the unknowns in this fight, I’m going to stay away from it betting wise, but for a prediction I’ll take Assuncao. Raphael Assuncao via Submission in Round Two.

Preliminary Card (Broadcast on Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Paulo Thiago (-390) vs. David Mitchell (+340)

Paulo Thiago is a part-time fighter, but is still one of the toughest fighters in the UFC’s stacked Welterweight division. That could possibly be because when he’s not fighting MMA he is a member of the BOPE, Brazil’s version of the Navy Seals. The 30-year-old has black belts in both BJJ and Judo, as well as having good boxing skills with Knockout power. He is a member of the Constrictor Jiu Jitsu team in Brazil and holds a career record of 13-3. Thiago is likely fighting for his UFC life, as he is currently in the midst of a two-fight losing skid, losing back to back fights to Martin Kampmann and Diego Sanchez respectively.

David Mitchell is an American born fighter from Windsor, California. “Daudi” is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter fighting out of the Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance in Santa Rosa, California. Most of his experience has come on the regional circuit fighting his first 11 fights and winning all of them in California. In his last fight he made his UFC debut and was outpointed by TJ Waldburger. He is not getting it any easier as he takes on Thiago, who is probably better than him in most areas of the fight game.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: This is a fight that is tailor-made to make Paulo Thiago look good in front of his home crowd and probably send Mitchell out the door. Thiago has the better stand up skills and hits harder, so the standing advantage goes to him. Mitchell has shown a tendency to pull guard if he’s in trouble, but that’s almost suicide against someone with Submission skills like Thiago who has 8 career Submission victories. -390 is A LOT of juice, Thiago is being given an 80% chance of winning the fight. It’s hard to see how Mitchell wins this one, but that’s just too much juice for me to bet this one. As for a fight prediction, Paulo Thiago via Submission in Round Two.

Preliminary Card (Broadcast Live on SPIKE): Middleweight Bout: Rousimar Palhares (-280) vs. Dan Miller (+252)

Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares is a 31-year-old from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a relatively short Middleweight standing only 5’8″ tall, but he is aptly nicknamed tree trunk (Toquinho is Portuguese for tree trunk,) as he is well-built and very muscular. He is a BJJ black belt training with the Brazilian Top Team. He will likely be a bit of a hometown hero in this fight, as during his youth he was forced to live in the slums of Rio. He holds a career MMA record of 12-3, with 9 victories via Submission. He has lost only two contests since 2006 and those were to two elite level Middleweights in Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt. Palhares will likely be looking to take this fight to the mat where he can work his impressive top game submission skills.

Dan Miller is an American from Sparta Township, New Jersey. He is the older brother of UFC Lightweight Contender Jim Miller. He is a very well-rounded fighter who is great at nothing, but good at all aspects of the fight game. He trains at the AMA Fight Club in New Jersey along with a number of other UFC Fighters. Miller has a background in high school wrestling and also holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Jamie Cruz. Miller owns a 13-5-1 record who has struggled against elite-level Middleweights, but has proven very tough to finish, as he has never been KO’ed or Submitted in his MMA career.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: At -280 Palhares is being given a 74% chance of winning this fight, but I think he actually holds a slightly larger edge than that. Both of these guys like to move forward and neither man is likely to back down, which has the potential to create some fireworks. Neither man is going to shy from a stand up battle, but neither has extremely strong boxing skills, but Palhares hits harder, which gives him the standing edge. Palhares stocky frame and massive upper-body strength makes him very difficult to take down and despite Miller’s expert BJJ skills I don’t think he’ll be able to earn a submission from his back. It will be tough for Palhares to stop Miller, as he has never been stopped in his career, but he should be able to control the action from start to finish with well-timed takedowns and top control. I hate laying big money, so this is again only a small Half-Unit bet, but I’ll take the Brazilian. Rousimar Palhares via Unanimous Decision.

Preliminary Card (Broadcast Live on SPIKE): Lightweight Bout: Spencer Fisher (+200) vs. Thiago Tavares (-205)

Spencer “The King” Fisher is an American fighter from Brevard, North Carolina. The 35-year-old fighter is a former member of the Militech Fighting Systems camp from Iowa, but now runs his own gym and fight team known as Team Evolution. He is a very experienced fighter with over 30 career fights, and a professional MMA record of 24-7. He is a fan-friendly fighter as he often prefers to stand and trade as opposed to take the fight to the ground where he can use his wrestling skills and top game. He has often said that he would prefer to lose an exciting fight than win a boring one, and he fights exactly true to his word. He has often struggled against strong wrestlers in the Lightweight division.

Thiago Tavares is a Brazilian fighter from Florianopolis. The 26-year-old is a strong ground fighter with a black belt in BJJ. He trains with the Brazilian Top Team and has a career record of 15-4-1, with 11 wins coming by way of Submission. He is somewhat notorious for kicking Nik Lentz in the groin so hard that he cracked Lentz’s metal cup. Tavares has added solid wrestling skills and technical boxing to compliment his extremely solid BJJ skills. It is very likely that he will look to exploit Fisher’s fairly weak defensive wrestling skills and try to take the fight to the ground.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: Tavares is being given a 67% chance of winning this fight and with a clear path to victory I think that’s probably about right. Fisher has struggled against the better wrestlers of the division and at 35-years-old is beginning to hit the downside of his MMA career. While Tavares is not an elite level wrestler by any means, he is still 9 years younger and is likely going to be the stronger fighter in the cage, so he should be able to earn takedowns, even if he has to work for them. I think this line is fairly well set as Tavares has seen the blue print to beat Fisher several times, however, Tavares has shown a somewhat fragile chin and despite his advanced age Fisher can still throw bombs. If Tavares gets sloppy and carries his hands low, Fisher needs only one clean punch to land to end the fight. Because of that, I’m not touching this fight. However, for a prediction I will take the Brazilian once again. Thiago Tavares via Submission late in Round Two.

Main Card (Broadcast Live on Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Luiz Cane (-200) vs. Stanislav Nedkov (+186)

Luiz “Banha” Cane is a 30-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Cane holds a black belt in BJJ, as well as strong Muay Thai and Boxing skills. Cane holds a career record of 11-3, although one loss stems from a DQ where he threw an illegal knee to a downed opponent, in a fight that he was dominating and likely on his way to winning. Nonetheless he has big power in his hands as he owns an impressive 9 wins via TKO or KO. In his last fight he snapped a two-fight losing skid, by stopping Eliot Marshall in the first round via Strikes. He has however shown himself to be a bit “chinny” as he was TKO’ed by both Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Cyrille Diabate in back to back fights. Despite his black belt in BJJ, Cane is likely going to want to keep this one standing and avoid going to the ground against a strong grappler like Nedkov.

Stanislav “Staki” Nedkov is a 29-year-old fighter from Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. Nedkov is a strong and well-built 205 pounder who has a black belt in BJJ as well as strong wrestling and improving boxing skills. Nedkov is an undefeated prospect making his UFC debut with a career record of 11-0. He owns 9 stoppage victories in his career winning 4 fights via Submission and 5 via TKO or KO. He is a strong grappler who prefers to use takedowns to get on top of his opponents and unleash ground and pound to either earn a TKO or search for a Submission opportunity. One glaring issue that has shown itself in some of Nedkov’s fights is cardio issues, as he gassed heavily in his fight against Kevin Randleman and somewhat in his fight against Travis Wiuff. Another concern for Nedkov is his relative inactivity since 2009, as he has had only one fight since November of 2009.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: This is one fight where I actually like the underdog, although I don’t plan on making a huge play. I’m not totally sold on Stanislav Nedkov as the second-coming of Fedor, but he is still a strong and undefeated talent with the tools to exceed in the UFC. I am however relatively unimpressed with Luiz Cane. I believe he is slightly over-hyped due to his impressive victories via Knockout. I think he is being slightly over-valued in this fight and although he should probably be the favorite I think it is closer to the realm of -150 not -200. At +186, Nedkov is being given approximately a 35% chance of winning the fight. I think it’s probably closer to a 40% chance, so I’m going to make a small Half-Unit play on the underdog in this one. Stanislav Nedkov via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Broadcast Live on Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Ross Pearson (+280) vs. Edson Barboza (-300)

Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson is an English fighter from Sunderland. He is a 26-year-old fighter who is best known as the winner of the Lightweight division on The Ultimate Fighter: USA versus UK. He trains with the famed English fight team Team Rough House. Pearson has a martial arts background in the sports of Tae Kwan Do (holding a black belt) and Judo (where he holds a brown belt.) He made his professional MMA debut in December 2004 and currently has an MMA record if 12-4. Pearson is mostly a brawler who isn’t afraid to strike against any opponent, and it has served him well as he has a UFC record of 4-1 with wins over Dennis Siver, Aaron Riley and most recently Spencer Fisher. Pearson’s one glaring weakness has been his ground game, but he may not need to worry about that against Barboza.

Edson “Junior” Barboza is a 25-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a former Ring of Combat Lightweight Champion. Barboza is a former professional Muay Thai kick boxer who held a 25-3 record as a professional kick boxer. He has since added a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu since starting his MMA career in 2009. He trains at The Armory in Jupiter, Florida. Since his professional MMA debut he has compiled an 8-0 record with 6 wins via KO or TKO and 1 via Submission. He made his UFC debut in November 2010 and made a statement, winning the fight by TKO due to Leg Kicks, as he kicked Mike Lullo so many times he could no longer stand. He is coming off of a strong decision win against Anthony Njokuani at UFC 128 in a purely stand-up battle that won him Fight of the Night Honors.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: Barboza is the superior fighter here. His stand up skills are far more technical and he likely hits harder than Pearson. Although Pearson is unlikely to try and shoot for a ground fight, he wouldn’t win one here, as Barboza is far superior on the ground as well. Another important style clash in this fight is that Pearson relies mostly on a brawling boxing style, using mostly his fists, while Barboza attacks from all angles using knees, kicks, elbows and punches, making him a much more versatile striker. 75% is probably a little bit low for Barboza as his line of -300 suggests, but I’m not interested in that much chalk. There is however another option for those of you looking for action on this fight. My sports book is currently offering Prop Bets on this fight. One of those gives you the option to take Edson Barboza to win inside the distance, which means you need a stoppage. Despite going the distance against Njokuani, I think Barboza can stop Pearson here more than 55% of the time, which makes it a worthwhile play. Pearson has proven durable as a fighter and has only been TKO’ed once in his career, so it’s not going to be a huge play. But once again a small Half-Unit play on Barboza to Win Inside the Distance. Edson Barboza via KO in Round Two

Main Card (Broadcast Live on Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Brendan Schaub (-230) vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (+216)

Brendan “The Hybrid” Schaub is a 28-year-old fighter, who fights out of Aurora, Colorado in the USA. He is a former professional football player, where he was an AFL player, as well as a member of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills practise roster. He was the runner-up on The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights, where he lost in the Finale by Knockout to Roy Nelson. Since that loss he has shown steady improvement and is currently on a 4-fight winning streak. Schaub has spent time at the Grudge Training Center as well as time with Greg Jackson’s MMA Camp in New Mexico, the results of made him into a formidable Heavyweight prospect. He has solid foot and hand speed, along with big Knockout power in his hands. He has continued to improve his stand up skills and in his last fight he knocked out former PRIDE star Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. In this fight, he’ll look to knock out another PRIDE legend when he takes on Big Nog.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira affectionately known to many fans as “Big Nog” is a Brazilian fighter and a bonafide MMA legend. “Minotauro” is a 35-year old fighter from Bahia, Brazil and was the first ever PRIDE FC Heavyweight Champion. He now runs his own gym known as the Black House with notables Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida and twin brother Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in Gardena, California. Nogueira is a strong grappler who holds black belts in both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo. He has also spent time training his boxing skills with the Brazilian and Cuban National Boxing teams. Nogueira holds a professional MMA record of 32-6-1-1.

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Betting Analysis and Prediction: Nogueira is a legend in the sport of MMA, however at 35-years old, he is fighting for the first time in almost 18 months and is on the downside of a career filled with wars against some of the greatest fighters the sport has ever seen. He says that he is fighting healthy for the first time in years, but I don’t know how much health has to do with his past performances compared to his advanced age and his worn-out body. Nogueira likely holds the edge in grappling skills and ground fighting, however against a younger, stronger opponent with better wrestling, he has very little chance of getting the fight there unless Schaub wants it there. That means that this one is likely going to be decided on the feet. There Schaub holds an advantage in both hand and foot speed as well as in power. He will be able to overcome the fact that Nogueira may have better technical boxing, by using his speed advantages to counter punch. Those counter shots should carry him all the way to a crushing Knockout victory. Schaub at -230 is being given a 70% chance of winning, which I think may be a bit low, but it’s in the right ball park. Nogueira has made a career however out of proving people wrong and snatching desperate last minute submissions, so it’s enough for me to stay away from this fight. No bets, but for a prediction I’ll take the young American. Brendan Schaub via Knockout late in the Second Round.

Co-Main Event (Broadcast Live on Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Mauricio Rua (-220) vs. Forrest Griffin (+225)

A Light Heavyweight rematch 4 years in the making takes co-headliner status in Rio. Their first match up at UFC 76 is still widely considered one of the biggest upsets in the sport of MMA. Rua was widely considered the top Light Heavyweight fighter in the world and was making his UFC debut after Zuffa purchased his former home PRIDE FC. In that first fight Griffin used takedowns, his size advantage and a continuous work-rate to wear down Rua, who seemed to gas half-way through the second round. Griffin continued to pressure the Brazilian before eventually earning a late takedown and earning a third round submission via Rear Naked Choke. Since that fight both men have had short reigns as the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and this rematch promises excitement.

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is a Brazilian fighter from Curitiba, Brazil. The 29-year old fighter was once widely considered the best Light Heavyweight fighter in the world. He is returning to the Octagon for the first time since losing his UFC Light Heavyweight title to current champion Jon Jones in a fairly one-sided loss. “Shogun” is a strong striker with an aggressive pressuring style, he also holds underrated ground skills. Rua holds black belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as well as in Muay Thai. He is a former member of the Brazilian Chute Boxe camp, formerly the number one camp in Brazil. He currently trains with his brother Murilo and Andre Amade at his own gym, the Universidade da Luta (University of Fighting.) Rua has had a bit of an up-and-down career in the UFC, losing his debut and then winning a less than impressive TKO over the over the hill Mark Coleman. He has since put things together destroying Chuck Liddell, then losing a close and very controversial decision to Lyoto Machida, before making a statement and KO’ing Machida in the first round of their rematch. During fights Rua prefers to rely on his strong Muay Thai skills and is constantly moving forward. He throws somewhat awkward punches, but his overhand rights and lefts which don’t necessarily look the best technically, hit with all kinds of power. He also has an under-rated clinch game and is one of the sport’s best finishers when he has another man rocked.

Forrest Griffin is the very likeable winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. His first UFC fight against Stephan Bonnar has likely earned him a permanent home in the UFC. The 32-yearold fighter from Columbus, Ohio is one of the biggest Light Heavyweights in the division, often walking around north of 230-240 pounds when not training. At 6’3″ he will hold a two-inch height advantage and a four-inch reach advantage for this fight. He’s going to need to do his best to exploit that edge in this fight if he wants to repeat his upset from 4 years ago. Griffin is a very well-rounded fighter, who isn’t really great at anything, but is good enough at everything to get himself through. He is a member of Xtreme Couture and often enters his fights with a very strong game plan, which is how he earned his first win against Shogun, he will need an equally strong strategy for this fight. Griffin often uses volume punching, constant clinches and takedowns where he can impose his strength and size advantages to earn takedowns and stellar cardio to gain the upper hand in his fights. Griffin recently returned from a 14-month layoff with a Decision win over Rich Franklin. In a pure kickboxing match Griffin is sure to be out-gunned by the Brazilian. If he wants to succeed in this fight, he’s going to need to do what he does best and make the fight ugly. He needs to constantly close the distance and pressure Rua from the inside, he needs to use constant takedowns to wear down the Brazilian and make him work from the bottom, where he should be able to make Rua tire out from the work of having a 230 pound man, smashing away from on top of you.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: I’m definitely not betting on this fight, I’ll go ahead and say that right away. Both men have the ability to win this fight, and at -220 and +225 I think the current market lines are fairly well set. However, there is still analysis to be done, so let’s take a look at it. In Rua’s last fight he was absolutely dominated by Jon Jones, however, Jones is a completely different beast than Griffin. Rua will know that his best chance for victory is a stand up battle where he holds an edge in speed, punching power and overall technical skill. Griffin has also shown himself to have somewhat of a glass chin and if one of those looping punches from Shogun hits the mark it might be a short night for Griffin. Griffin needs to use his kicks and a strong jab to exploit his reach advantage and keep Shogun away. From there he’ll need to close the gaps quickly and get inside before Shogun has time to get him in range for a big power shot. Once inside takedowns are going to be a key for Griffin. Despite Shogun’s black-belt in BJJ he has never really been someone who submits fighters from his back and likely won’t be able to do it against someone as strong and someone as positionally aware on the ground as Griffin. I’ve had a really tough time picking this one, but I’ve got to make a selection and I’m going to lean with Shogun here. I think at some point one of those big punches will land and as I said before, there are few better than Shogun at finishing an opponent who is hurt. Mauricio Rua via TKO in Round Three.

Main Event – Middleweight Title Fight (Broadcast Live on Pay Per View): Middleweight Championship Bout: Yushin Okami (+425) vs. Anderson Silva (-471)

The UFC Middleweight title is on the line in this rematch from January 2006, as Yushin Okami finally gets his shot at Anderson Silva. That fight so long ago was actually Anderson’s last loss as a professional. However, don’t read into it too much as Okami won the fight via DQ. After earning a takedown, Okami postured up to throw ground and pound but was caught with a nasty up kick from Silva, which KO’ed the Japanese fighter instantly. However, Okami had his knees on the ground so the kick was deemed illegal and with Okami unable to continue, Silva was handed a disqualification. Since that fight in Hawaii, Silva has taken the UFC by storm and is currently riding a fourteen fight winning streak which has included wins over some of the best Middleweights in the world including Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, Demian Maia, Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson.

Yushin “Thunder” Okami is a Japanese fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. The 30-year-old fighter has an impressive 26-5 record and if you are to believe the Dana White hype machine is the “best Japanese fighter on the planet.” All hyperbole aside Okami is a tough match up for anyone as he is a fairly large and very strong Middleweight. Okami holds a black belt in Judo and also has extensive training in Kickboxing and Wrestling. The latter is probably the most surprising as most non-North American fighters often lack solid wrestling fundamentals. Since his loss to Chael Sonnen, Okami has actually moved camps to join Sonnen at Team Quest in Oregon, where he has continued to improve upon his wrestling. During his fights Okami often uses his Kickboxing skills to dictate the pace of the fight, before shooting for takedowns and using top control and ground and pound to earn points on the scorecards. Okami is definitely not a volume puncher as he often uses his strikes to counter his opponent and try to slow the pace of the fight. Since joining with Sonnen at Team Quest, Okami has shown considerable improvement in his wrestling skills defeating two strong wrestlers in both Mark Munoz and Nate Marquardt to earn a shot at Silva. It is very likely that Okami is going to implement a very similar game plan to that which Sonnen used in his failed attempt against Silva. During that fight, Sonnen ignored the stand-up completely and upon the fight beginning immediately moved forward and shot for a takedown. He was able to win all four rounds by using this strategy before being submitted by Silva in the final round with a Hail Mary submission attempt. Sonnen has said that Okami is now able to control and handle him in training, which may or may not be true, but either way expect to see a very similar game plan from Okami.

Anderson “The Spider” Silva is the reigning and defending UFC Middleweight Champion. The 36-year-old Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo should have the hometown crowd behind him, unless he wears a Corinthians Football Club jersey again (Corinthians is a soccer team from Anderson’s hometown of Sao Paulo, and they are widely hated by the locals in Rio who support Flamengo FC, apparently Brazilians love their soccer more than their MMA.) Nonetheless, Anderson is one of the most dominant fighters of all time and is currently searching for his fifteenth straight win and his tenth straight defense of his title. Despite the previously mentioned loss to Okami, Silva hasn’t actually been stopped by another fighter since December 31, 2004. Anderson is a striker who fights out of the famed Black House training camp with Lyoto Machida and the Nogueira brothers. Anderson has an extensive martial arts background holding a black belt in BJJ, a black belt in Judo, a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and a Yellow Rope in Capoeira. Anderson is also one of the most creative and dangerous strikers in the UFC and has knockout power in both hands, both feet and his knees and elbows (check out this video if you don’t believe the comment about his elbows http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLUKJdkvu5w.) Anderson is also an extremely strong fighter with a devastating clinch game. He will surely be looking to keep this fight standing as long as possible and will need to avoid the takedowns of Okami. Despite his black belt in BJJ, he will likely have a tougher time from the bottom than he did against Sonnen, as Sonnen is known to have poor submission defense and Okami is more positionally aware.

Betting Analysis and Predictions: If you guys have been reading my stuff for a while, you’ll know that I am a sucker for big underdogs. And this fight is no exception. I’m planning to make a small Half-Unit play on Okami in this fight. I’ve always thought that solid wrestling and eliminating the striking from Silva’s game is the way to beat him. Nate Marquardt found some success in the beginning of the fight earning a takedown against Silva, Dan Henderson won the first round against Anderson by taking him down and controlling him on the mat, and most recently Chael Sonnen showed the wrestling based game plan to defeat Silva.

I would expect that Okami is going to use a very similar strategy to the one that Sonnen used. Ignore the stand up, shoot for takedowns as quickly as possible and work from the top to try and ground and pound and wear down Silva while earning points on the judge’s scorecards. Just a note that Anderson Silva is the favorite for a reason and more often than not he is going to win this fight. However, I think getting almost 4.5 to 1 is a bit too much, as Anderson probably wins this fight closer to 75%-80% of the time. At +425 Okami is being given an 18% chance of winning the fight, which leaves just the slightest bit of value. But it’s a very small play for me and one that I expect to lose more often than I win, but the times it wins should cover the multiple times I lose. Yushin Okami via Unanimous Decision.

Lee McGregor is a fan of all combat sports including both Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts. When not catching fights or watching hockey, he can be found as an Author and Editor at his own website MyManCave.ca

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